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About the Book

Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III


Part V

Part VI

Part VII



Part IV: Personality Development: The Old and the New

Chapter 3

Types of Personality

Projection Techniques

     IT IS NOT too difficult to distinguish between two types of personality that are poles apart -- the highly practical and the highly impractical, the doer and the thinker. In between are the vast majority of people who are both doer and dreamer, but not remarkably either. Yet there are often situations in which the scales are tipped suddenly one way or the other and the classification of the individual in one camp or the other is made more obvious. Let me illustrate this. The one type drives along in his car, giving no thought to the complexities of the vehicle he drives, until suddenly for some unknown reason it coughs and splutters and comes to an awkward halt. For a moment he is baffled. He gets out, lifts the hood, looks in the general direction of the engine but can see nothing obviously wrong, pauses a moment, slams down the hood again and tries the starter once more. Failing to start the motor, he deserts the vehicle and heads for the nearest telephone. In a similar situation, the other type looks quickly at the dashboard, turns the key off and on and tries the motor again. Failing this, he methodically raises the hood, checks the plugs, the wiring, or other singular components one by one, and refuses to phone except as a last resort. Until such a situation arises for both men, it might be difficult to distinguish between them. But an incident like this reveals quite a lot about their personalities. The first man is not a mechanic and cannot be bothered with details but acts at once to organize the future. By him, the car is looked upon as a whole entity which either works or doesn't work -- the details don't interest him. Lifting the hood is merely a gesture, and probably the only mental note that is made before closing it again is that the engine is still there. This has been termed a "Whole Response." The other man evinces what may be called a "Detail Response." The distinction between the two types of behaviour reflects a real distinction

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between the two types of personality. Moreover, these differentials characterize people throughout their lives from childhood to old age. They are, in fact, hereditary.
     In this over-simplified picture we have the philosopher and the mechanic; the executive who commands and the workman who performs; the man who sees wholes and deals with situations as such, and the man who sees details and handles them accordingly.
     For very good reasons it was desirable for businesses to be able to distinguish between these two types of individuals when seeking to fill positions, and means have been sought to make it possible to separate people whose particular bent has been clearly revealed in the ordinary events of life. It would not be fair to say that Projection Techniques were developed specifically for this purpose, but it soon became apparent that they could serve very well. In the interests of brevity we can summarize the situation as follows. A projection technique is a means of structuring a situation for the individual in such a way that, by his reaction, an insight can be gained into the type of personality he really has. The appropriate stalling of a car, with an attendant observer, could have been used. But its efficacy would depend upon far too many other factors. Other techniques have been developed which are not too difficult to administer (although evaluation may be difficult), which can be given with little more in the way of equipment than paper and pencil.
     It soon became apparent by the use of such devices that personality had two rather distinct components, one of which is termed the Structure and the other the Content. For the reader unfamiliar with the specialized meaning of these two terms, it will be sufficient to say that the reaction of the first driver in contrast to that of the second was the result of a difference in Structure of personality. If, however, in discussing the incident with each man, we had afterwards discovered that the first man was very selfish, mean, and bad-tempered, whereas the second was patient and kindly, we would then have discovered a difference in the Content of their personalities.

Tests For Structure of Personality

     Perhaps the most familiar of the projection techniques for sorting out such factors is known as the Rorschach Test. Other tests are the Thematic Apperception Test, the Zondi Test, and the Tautophone Test. We shall describe the first two very briefly. The principle which lies behind all such tests, is that to determine the content of the personality we use a structured test, and to determine the structure we use an unstructured test.

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     The Rorschach Test employs a series of ink blots which have been created haphazardly by spilling ink onto a sheet of paper and folding it over upon itself so that the smudge takes a mirrored form on either side of the crease. A series of these nondescript shapes are presented to the subject one at a time and he is asked to describe what he sees. If we over-simplify the situation, we may say that the response takes one of two forms. One type of individual will look at the whole blot and, seeing it as a whole, will say, "It looks to me like a such-and-such." The other type will examine the figure piece by piece, isolating fragments or details here and there, and by association describe them as separate items. The conclusions which would be drawn by an examiner are as follows: The first man sees situations as wholes; he will make a good executive. The second man takes things apart; he will make a good mechanic. Those who have administered such tests will be horrified at this over-simplification. Yet they would have to agree, I think, that the principle is correctly stated. The ink blot is unstructured and the individual structures it. And in so doing he unconsciously reveals his habitual way of dealing with life situations. Naturally there are all kinds of half-way individuals in between, and the evaluation of their responses requires great skill.

Tests for Content of Personality

     The Thematic Apperception Test (or TAT as it is called) takes the following form. A series of detailed pictures which are fairly complex and suggestive is presented one by one to the subject. He is given all the time he wishes to study each picture and is asked to say what he thinks has happened to lead up to the situation indicated by the scene. He might, for example, be shown a picture of a man with his head on his arm either asleep or in grief, sprawled across a table in a dingy room with a dog lying on the floor, looking up at him. The question is, Is this a picture of a man merely tired -- or drunk -- or grief-stricken -- or afraid to go to bed because of an argument with his wife? There is a tendency for the subject after studying the scene, to fill in the details in such a way that he reveals the kind of man he is himself, whether quarrelsome, or tenderhearted, or whatever may happen to be his own particular temperament. In this kind of test case, the picture is structured and is charged with an invitation to supply its emotional content.
     By such means the trained psychologist is able to determine with a fair degree of accuracy the structure and the content of a personality. The structure is basically found to be hereditary, the content is generated during the individual's life time. The structure being thus predetermined is not normally changed, but the content may be. It is

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obvious that most people are neither remarkably philosophical nor remarkably practical. Most of us fall pretty well in the middle. But during our childhood we will be subject to influences which reinforce one or other of these tendencies, thus tipping the scales. No matter how ingenious and practical an individual may be by heredity, if he grows up among philosophers who make no allowance for his practical bent to develop itself, whatever philosophizing tendency he may have, is encouraged. There is a general feeling that, for those who might be either, the decision is pretty well made for them by the time they are five years old.
     It should be emphasized once again that this is a grossly over-simplified picture. To begin with, there are other types of personality structure than the philosophical or practical -- artists, for example.

Diagrammatic View of Structure and Content

     We are approaching the point at which many of the things we have been discussing will begin to throw light in a special way on a number of key terms in Scripture that relate to the personality of the new man in Christ. It is therefore very necessary to be quite clear about the meanings of the terms used thus far. To begin with, there is no doubt that we recognize several very different capacities in people, artistic, philosophical, practical, and so forth. These are due to hereditary bents. The artist deals most successfully with forms, the philosopher with ideas, the practical man with things. One either is, or is not, an artist -- however early or late in life the talent manifests itself an artist is born an artist. This is equally true of the others also, though perhaps they are not so readily recognized, because they are expressed in less specific ways, unless exceptionally developed.
     There are three important considerations here, and a summary of them may be helpful. First, such bents or capacities are hereditary. Secondly, they are not essentially altered by life experiences, except that they may be atrophied through disuse or extended by encouragement. Third, they have little or nothing to do with the desirability or undesirability of the person's character as an individual. The artist may be a pleasant fellow or most objectionable, but he remains an artist by nature in either case. So also with the philosopher or practical man. Artist, philosopher, or practical man -- this is the structure aspect, hereditarily determined -- fixed. Disposition, modified by life experience, is to some extent culturally determined and can be changed quite fundamentally.
     When an individual is truly converted, it is therefore found that the change which takes place applies fundamentally to the content,

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affecting the moral character and disposition of the individual. But conversion does nothing to change the natural talents. This is not to deny, however, that such talents may be enlarged or re-directed. Moreover, hidden talents may now be brought to light for the first time. The pagan musician who happens to be a wicked man does not cease to be a musician when he is converted, nor the pagan philosopher to be philosophically inclined, though each will cease to be wicked men and in due time will probably devote their talents to the service of God instead of themselves.
     When a man becomes a Christian the structure of his personality remains, but the content is profoundly changed, and this change has an influence subsequently upon the structure. The New Testament has its own quite specific terminology here and deals clearly and logically with this process of transformation, both receiving light and casting light upon these findings of psychology and anthropology.
     To make this transfer of terms from psychology to scripture, it is convenient to use three diagrams. Recognizing the difference between structure and content, we may use an arbitrary shape, say a circle, to represent the structure of the artistic personality, and the space inside it then represents the content. Likewise, for the others (see diagram).

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     It will, of course, be apparent that the individual character as represented by dots, circles, or crosses, may be applied in the figures in any way desired. As contents, they are not bound in any way to the structures in which we happen to have put them. It will, of course, be apparent that the individual character as represented by dots, circles, or crosses, may be applied in the figures in any way desired. As contents, they are not bound in any way to the structures in which we happen to have put them.
     Once this is clearly understood and applied to the New Testament, many passages will be seen to contain a much more exact statement than before of what happens when the new nature displaces the old. In particular, I think, we may see something of what is not normally changed. That a man is a new creation and "all things" become new, will be seen to apply potentially to the content, but not in all probability to the structure which, being hereditary, is presumably God's appointment for the individual. This will indicate what is our part and what is God's part in the building of a new personality; what we may expect and what we should not expect of the new man in Christ Jesus.

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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