Body Image: A Handbook of Theory, Research, and Clinical Practice

By Thomas F. Cash; Thomas Pruzinsky | Go to book overview

18
Projective Techniques to Assess
Body Image

LISA M. RADIKA
BERT HAYSLIP, JR.

Body image theorists and researchers emphasize the multidimensionality of body experience and perception. At any point in time, an individual may simultaneously monitor body size, attractiveness, and/or variations in body part size. Body image has often been differentiated into perceptual and attitudinal components. Projective measures are particularly valuable for assessing perceptual aspects of body image empirically and qualitatively and can provide incrementally valid data distinct from that obtained from structured interview or self-report techniques.

Projective measures of personality assessment purport to assess the tendency of individuals to be influenced by their interests, needs, and psychological organization as they interpret ambiguous stimuli. Any stimulus not structured to elicit a specific class of responses can evoke projective responses. These responses reflect some aspect of the individual's personality, of which the person may not be consciously aware. This ability of projective instruments to circumvent respondents' conscious defenses allows access to unique information not available through structured and objective personality measures.

This chapter summarizes the literature on the projective assessment of body image and body experiences. Questions regarding the current status and utilization of projective methods, as well as the predominant views regarding specific projective techniques purporting to assess body experiences, are discussed. Although many projective techniques claim to assess body experiences, those that have been most frequently researched are emphasized here.

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