An empirical look at the Defence Mechanism Test (DMT) Stimulus effects

Irena Zuber and Bo Ekehammar

Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, Volume 38, Issue 2, pages 85–94, June 1997

Based on a sample of non-clinical subjects (N=74) the study examines the Defence Mechanism Test (DMT) by focusing on when perceptual distortions, called ‘signs of defence’ in DMT terminology, occur (distribution in exposure duration), which part of the picture is involved (distribution in localisation), and which ‘signs’ go together (using correlation and factor analyses). The results disclosed that the occurrence of perceptual distortions (‘signs of defence’) was related to exposure duration (some ‘defences’ are more frequent at brief exposures, some others at longer exposure durations), and to localisation on the picture. The location of misperceptions to the central person (hero) or the peripheral person (pp) of the picture was the major explanatory principle for the distribution of ‘signs’ on factors. Rather than capturing psychodynamic defence mechanisms, which is the theoretical basis of the test, the analyses imply that the DMT seems to measure misperceptions which are a function of the localisation of persons on the stimulus picture and of exposure durations.

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