Sentence Completion Test

Topics: Psychometrics, Personality test, Personality psychology Pages: 12 (2654 words) Published: March 30, 2012

Tests are used to measure. In different fields, there are tests specifically designed to measure a specific thing. In psychology, a projective test is a type of personality test in which the individual offers responses to ambiguous scenes, words or images (Cherry, 2010). Projective tests are widely used in this field because of its capability to explore one’s unconscious and reveal those hidden from conscious awareness. There are a number of different projective tests one of which is the Sentence Completion Test. According to Lubin, Larsen, and Matarazzo (1984 as cited by Knoff, 1986) in a survey, sentence completion test was among the 10 most frequently used tests. This particular test is popular in eliciting the psycho diagnostic information on individual’s need states, attitudes, and personality dynamics. The sentence completion test consists of a number of incomplete sentences which an individual completes either orally or in writing (Knoff, 1986). Responses to these sentence stems are voluntary and limited to the range of attitudes and feelings that they elicit from within the individual. An expert then analyzes the responses provided by the individual and used these responses to determine attitudes, personality styles, and dynamics. Like any other projective tests, the sentence completion test also faces controversies and debates. The subjectivity of the process is the primary concerns of some who questions this test. Among all the projective tests, the sentence completion test has many types. We will discuss the different types later on this paper. Among the different types of sentence completion tests the notable similarities among them are their formats. All of these tests includes sentence stems related to self-image and emotions, perceptions of significant others, and environment. They all vary just with their content, as well as their length, complexity and purpose (Knoff, 1986).


Historically, the sentence completion test was developed to measure individual’s mental abilities as well as to gain insight to their attitudes and personalities (Knoff, 1986). Ebbinghaus (1897) hypothesized that different mental abilities could be identified through the analysis of incomplete sentence responses. The more complex the responses are the more it reflect greater mental capacity, while simple and undeveloped answers were to reflect inferior mental abilities Ebbinghaus’ sentence completion task was included in Binet and Simon’s intelligence scale. In the last 25 years, the use of sentence completion to measure mental abilities has weakened because of the existence of more reliable measures in assessing mental abilities.

Word association has said to be the forerunner of sentence completion test. Carl Jung explored on the idea that much could be learned from the inner life of a person by eliciting their associations with words (Weiner, Greene, 2008). Expanded research on this idea, elicited that greater depth of feeling can be expressed from one-word stimuli to incomplete sentences.

During World War II, there was a great demand for sentence completion test. It was used for the evaluation and placement of American Soldiers. The success of the usage of this test to military screening gave way to the development of a 40-item sentence completion test by Rotter and Willerman used in military hospitals. Later on the test was adapted and was used for the general civilian population and was named Incomplete Sentence Blank (ISB: Rotter, Rafferty, & Schachtiz, 1949 as cited by Knoff, 1986). The Incomplete Sentence Blank served as a general model to the other developing sentence completion tests.


In developing the sentence completion test considerations in terms of purpose, form and administration, and interpretation must be considered. These are basic elements of this test and are present and common on...
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