Psychological evaluation is a process that is omnipresent in practically all the areas in which this discipline can be applied: clinical and health, sports, personnel selection, academic orientation, etc.

From it we can extract important information from the person after having previously delimited a clear purpose, which will serve as a guide throughout the whole process and will define other variables that can be measured. This task contemplates an enormous variety of different procedures: from the interview to the self-report, passing through the systematic observation of a phenomenon and the objective measurements.

In this article we will describe the Wartegg test , an evaluation tool classified as a projective test, whose use is widely spread in the field of Organizational Psychology.

What is the Wartegg test

The Wartegg test is a projective test , as is the iconic and archaic Roscharch test (in which a set of ink spots on white sheets must be interpreted in order to construct a coherent image from a highly ambiguous stimulus, which would allow the evaluator to infer the basic aspects of the personality).

Its use arises from theoretical models that conceive the human being as an agent element in the construction of his reality, being able to give meaning to everything that happens to him through perceptive processes that combine experience and individuality. Thus, in the face of a situation of notable indefinition, people would articulate a unique perceptual result from which their desires and fears, their capacities and aspirations could be inferred .

We will now present what this well-known evaluation test looks like. It is usually applied in the context of personnel selection processes, often subject to pre-established criteria and requirements. It requires the drawing of eight different figures for which the technical quality is not evaluated; rather the implicit meaning of the strokes, the use of space and the integration of certain graphic elements are evaluated .

What is the Wartegg test

The Wartegg test physically consists of a single page, which contains a set of elements that the tested subject will have to complete during the process. First of all, all the basic identification data (full name, age, sex, date of completion, academic background and profession) are included at the top.

After filling in this information, the actual test begins. We will access a rectangle crossed by a horizontal line and three vertical lines, which divide it into 8 spaces of equal size (squares), where later the free drawings will have to be drawn. Each one of them contains a series of strokes inside, lines or curves. In an adjacent position to each of the squares, a small white rectangle is also visible.

In the second half of the sheet there are 8 numbered lines under the heading of “title drawings” , which should be completed by assigning a sentence that describes the content of each of the eight illustrations that were previously generated. At the end of this part you will have access to four questions. These explore which drawings are considered to be favourites, as well as the degree of difficulty involved in drawing them.

How the Wartegg test is performed

This test takes between 25 and 35 minutes to complete, which includes identifying, drawing and answering the various questions. The most time-consuming part is the preparation of the drawings, which can be dealt with in the order in which they are considered appropriate, but clearly identifying the sequence chosen (writing a number from 1 to 8 in a small rectangle, adjacent to the squares where they are drawn).

Each of the tables contains a series of simple shapes (lines, curves or figures) that serve as a preliminary indication, and from which a drawing must be drawn that integrates them into its composition . 4 of these tables (1, 2, 7 and 8) have curves inside them, while the rest (3, 4, 5 and 6) have straight lines. Thus, the first ones will facilitate the elaboration of organic drawings (such as landscapes or animals) and the rest will suggest contents of a more artificial appearance.

After these drawings have been made, the person is asked to title them . It does not have to be through a precise statement that describes their content, but one can also opt for more poetic or metaphorical elaborations. In any case, it should represent the way in which the person perceives his eight works, summarizing in a simple way how he sees them.

Finally, you should indicate whether any of the images drawn during the drawing phase were particularly easy or difficult, as well as your preference for any of them. At this point , the personal assessment that emerges from the development of the test is explored, which also provides relevant information for its proper interpretation. After this step, the exercise can be considered completed.

How to interpret the Wartegg test

This test explores essential aspects of personality by resorting to the precepts of the psychodynamic model. It includes the management of emotions, interpersonal relationships, expectations or ambitions, the soundness of the life project, the analysis of situations and values.

One of the first aspects that should be considered is the degree to which the person integrates the pre-established line or curve with the drawing that he or she has subsequently made , since there are subjects that overestimate their relevance and others that practically ignore their presence, suggesting a certain tendency towards anarchy or firm compliance with the rules (respectively).

The author of this test (Ehrig Wartegg, 1930) considered that the structure of each of the contents to be dealt with (lines or curves) was a meeting point with executive problems that had to be solved, dealing with their physical properties and what these might suggest to the person being evaluated: lightness, weight, rigidity, chaos, order, tension between opposites, trifle, centrality, etc.).

We proceed to explain each of the eight fields and a brief overview of how they are interpreted.

Field 1

It only shows a point, of small dimensions, in the centre of the space on which the drawing is to be made . It represents individuality, the way in which the person feels about the environment that surrounds him/her. The wide white margins around the tiny dot represent everything external, which is different from the person himself, while the dot shows the identity in immersion with the environment.

Field 2

Shows a subtle curved line in the upper left quadrant of the field to be filled in , similar to the “ñ” virgin. This part explores the affective component of relationships, that is, the way the person shows himself emotionally to others. Depending on the respect for the spaces reserved for the symbol, the positive or negative value of the bonds that are developed in the social domain will be interpreted.

Field 3

It represents three straight lines located successively and in parallel, of increasing length, in the lower left quadrant of this field. It alludes to ambition and the desire to grow. The way in which the person takes advantage of each of these lines, as well as the solution of continuity that he or she proposes for the progression (following it or interrupting it), will offer information on how the expectations are projected in the personal challenges.

Field 4

It is a small square, black, arranged in the upper right quadrant of the field. This figure explores the relationship with the unconscious and the ability to develop deep cognitive content at the level of the imagination. The way in which this small geometry is integrated with the drawing suggests emotions of anguish or tranquillity, as well as maturity or immaturity in the strategies to deal with affective problems.

Field 5

These are two separate diagonal lines, located in the lower left quadrant, whose convergence would form an X. It values the regulation of energy and the tendency to act. The way in which the drawing is made may suggest tendencies towards hostility or manifest aggression , self- or heterodirected. When the figures are properly preserved they suggest a person with dynamism and an appropriate sense of initiative.

Field 6

It is composed of two small straight lines, one horizontal and the other vertical, which are located in the upper half of the painting. Both shapes seem to suggest a certain sense of spatial continuity, which the person can take advantage of to seek a complete closure of the figure. In this case, reasoning and the role of intellect are valued for the subject being evaluated. It also specifies the capacity to synthesize and discriminate the relevant from the irrelevant.

Field 7

It shows a linear succession of points forming a crescent with an opening in its upper region, located within the lower right quadrant. It explores the more subtle aspect of sensitivity , even of basic eroticism. It contemplates surrender, openness to others and aesthetic values, as well as the tendency to show social care attitudes in interactions with others. The way in which the dotted line is respected or not will suggest gentleness or roughness.

Field 8

It is formed by a long and marked curve, which extends transversely and occupies a good part of the upper half of the frame. It evaluates the tendency to seek protection, as well as the relationship that the individual has with his or her parents and the tendency to seek protection in the group. The drawing generated from this predefined form will indicate how the person feels about his or her ability to transcend adversity.

Final considerations

The Wartegg test is subject to constant reliability and validity testing , including the interjudge mode, to determine if its use can provide useful information for understanding personality structure.

Bibliographic references:

  • Crisi, A. and Dentale, F. (2016). The Wartegg Drawing Completion Test: Inter-rater agreement and criterion validity of three new scoring categories. International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy, 16(1), 85-92.
  • Soilevuo, J. y Gronnerod, C. (2012). The Wartegg Zeichen Test: Una visión general de la literatura y un meta-análisis de fiabilidad y validez. Psychological Assessment, 24(2), 476 – 489.