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Rosenzweig Picture Frustration Study

A projective test administered to assess personality characteristics, in which the subject is shown scenes depicting moderately frustrating situations and asked what the frustrated person depicted would probably do, or how the subject would react in such situations.

The Rosenzweig Picture Frustration test consists of 24 cartoon pictures, each portraying two persons in a frustrating situation. Each picture contains two "speech balloons," a filled one for the "frustrator" or antagonist, and a blank one for the frustrated person, or protagonist. The subject is asked to fill in the blank balloon with his or her response to the situation, and the responses are scored in relation to a number of psychological defense mechanisms. For example, responses are scored as to whether, and to what degree, they indicate that the subject exhibits aggression toward the source of the frustration, assumes blame or guilt as the cause of the frustration, or justifies, minimizes, or denies the frustration. The score is based on a total of nine factors, derived from combinations of three types of aggression (obstacle-dominance, ego-defense, and need-persistence) and three directions of aggression (extraggression, imaggression, and intraggression). However, testers often analyze the subject's responses more informally and intuitively.

Originally developed for adults by Saul Rosenzweig, the test is now available in versions for children and adolescents. The empirical validity of the Rosenzweig Picture Frustration Study and other projective techniques is disputed by some authorities.

Further Reading

Rosenzweig, Saul. The Rosenzweig Picture Frustration (P-F) Study. St. Louis: Rana House, 1978.

Additional topics

Psychology EncyclopediaPsychology Experiments