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INTRODUCTION Word Association Test was originally known as FREE ASSOCIATION TEST. Galton introduced the first word-association test to psychology. He used a list of 75 stimulus words with which he read and noted his responses. His responses to the words had a tendency to remain alike and they were typically taken from his childhood experiences. This prompted future studies by prominent psychologist such as Freud in the area of psychoanalysis dealing with the unconscious mind and free association.

Wundt and J. Mac-Cattel subsequently introduced it into the psychological laboratory, where it was adopted to many uses. The early experimental psychologist as well as the first mental tester, saw in each association test, a tool for the exploration of thinking process.

This technique, was then developed by Carl Jung to explore complexes in the personal unconscious. Jung came to recognize the existence of groups of thoughts, feelings, memories, and perceptions, organized around a central theme, that he termed psychological complexes.

Jung introduced significant innovations to this method. In addition to the cognitive dimensions, he emphasized the emotional aspects involved. He noted that the words to which subjects offered unusual responses were connected with themes having an emotional impact on them.

He found that clusters of ideas, images, and words loaded with much affect (positive or negative) interfered with the ego (as the coordinating agency) by producing unusual responses. He called these clusters complexes.

These contributed to the development of his theories about shared unconscious in subjects, for example, the archetypes.

Word association testing has been used extensively in psychology to assess the personality of the test subjects. Projective techniques, of which word association is a type, typically present respondents with an ambiguous stimulus and ask them to disambiguate this stimulus.

The underlying principle behind most projective techniques is that respondents project aspects of their own personalities in the process of disambiguating test stimuli. The interpreter of the projective technique can thus examine answers to these stimuli for insights into the respondents personality dispositions


This a) Aid in detecting impairment of thought processes.

b) Suggest areas of significant internal conflict.


The Word Association Test has been developed to fill the need for a test that can be easily and "objectively" graded, that can sample broadly the content of a course, that can be readily prepared and that avoids the multiple choice format.

The format of the test is straightforward: Stimulus terms-key words-are chosen from the material on which a class is to be tested. Examinees are given the opportunity to demonstrate their familiarity and grasp of each term by responding to it appropriately. The stimulus terms selected are arrayed vertically; the number of responses required is chosen by the examiner.


A series of disconnected words are presented to individual and is asked to respond by giving the first word that comes to mind. There is no time limit.


Following are some kinds of association disturbances: Blocking: offering no reaction word. Object naming: naming objects in the examiners office. Definition: a multiword definition of the stimulus word.

Attempted definition: subjects inclined to offer definition sometimes, in their haste, offer poor ones (Rug- To walk on). Repetition: of the stimulus word (Door Door). Partial repetition: the stimulus word is included in, or part of it constitutes the reaction (Boyfriend) Boy; Taxi.

Clang association: where no sense or relationship can be established. Thus Door-Lock is not considered a clang association, while Man-Can is so considered. Phrase completion: the reaction complete a word or phrase, of which the stimulus word is a part, usually the first part. Such as from Table-Cloth & Fire.

Attribute: an adjectival association modifying the original stimulus word, or naming a component of the object referred to by it (Woman-Pretty). Images: the first and sometimes only reaction to the stimulus word is a visual image, spontaneously reported by the subject or elicited by inquiry.

Suspected images: sometimes a delay in reaction suggest the presence of an image which is not confirmed by the subject. Self reference: such as Father-Mine, Girlfriend-I have none.

a) Repeating the same reaction inappropriately on successive stimulus word.

Repeating the same reaction on almost all stimulus words having some link.

Multiword reaction: excluding multiword definition which are classified separately (Party-Lots of friends). Unrelated reaction: no connection can be established between stimulus and reaction word (Book-Turkey).

Distant reaction: related to the stimulus word in a farfetched manner (Man-Creative, PartyFuneral). Mild distant reaction: not farfetched but outside the usual run of reaction (Trunk-Lock, Rug-Dirt). Neologisms: Response about suicide and sexual problems. Such as suicide woocide or intercourse reproduce.

Affective reaction: value judgment, usually adjective, usually depicting the mood of the subject (Mother-Nice). Alternative: more than one reaction (SuckBaby or Bottle). Proper noun: proper naming of the stimulus response (Boyfriend-John).


These kinds of Associative disturbances we have differentiated, though treated here under Scoring are not scored in the sense we use scores on other tests. In every day practice we notice these types, but do not score them.

Blocking: This occur in inhibited preschizophrenic. Object naming: This occur in depressive psychotic and inhibited pre-schizophrenic.

Definition & Attempted definition: This occur with a very high incidence in depressive and deteriorated unclassified schizophrenic.

Repetition & Partial repetition: This most frequently occur in acute and inhibited preschizophrenics paranoia, depressive psychotic and with anxiety, and depression have some tendency in this direction.

Clang association: They are present in schizophrenics, most in over ideational preschizophrenics and least in acute schizophrenics.

Phrase completion: This occur most in chronic unclassified schizophrenic, acute paranoid schizophrenic and over ideational pre-schizophrenic. Attributes: This occur in chronic and deteriorated schizophrenic and are also common in paranoid conditions.

In obsessive-compulsive and anxious depressed neurotic the relatively high incidence of attribute reflects merely their accumulation of suspected images. Image & Suspected image: this occur most often in pre-schizophrenics and obsessivecompulsive patients.

Self reference: They are not very frequent, and occur at time in chronic and deteriorated unclassified schizophrenics and depressive patients.

Preservation: This occur in chronic schizophrenic, acute paranoid schizophrenic and simple schizophrenics.

Multiword reaction: This occur in deteriorated unclassified schizophrenic followed by acute unclassified schizophrenic, paranoid condition and depression. Unrelated reaction: This occur in deteriorated unclassified schizophrenics in second place some chronic unclassified schizophrenics and simple schizophrenics.

Distant reaction: This occur in chronic unclassified schizophrenic. Mildly distant reaction: This occur in schizophrenics and also in depressive patients. Alternate reactions: They are not often given except by some schizophrenic(not including pre-schizophrenics) however, depressive patients produce a few at time.

One thing should be kept in mind while evaluating the results of this test, that it is not a diagnostic test. It can be used with other tests to prove their accuracy. So we should not attempt to diagnose an individual on the basis of this test.


Jung, Carl Gustav. (1917/1926/1943). The psychology of the unconscious processes. In Coll. Works, Vol.7: Two essays on analytical psychology (R. F. Hull, Trans.). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1953.