Home > Psychology > Nancy Furlotti: Carl Jung Perfected Word Association Test

Nancy Furlotti: Carl Jung Perfected Word Association Test

First developed by Victorian polymath Francis Galton as a means to determine intelligence quotient, word association gained prominence in the field of psychology after further investigation by Carl Jung. He used this experiment to test for the presence of complexes in his subjects. It was this test that led him to develop the theory of complexes which are the unconscious “feeling-toned” factors that break through into consciousness making us react in ways outside of our normal ego functioning. This important work helped him explain the reactions he was observing in his psychotic patients while working at the Burgholzli Mental Clinic in Zurich. The test generally encompasses 100 words revealed to the subject by the administrator; the subject responds with the first word that comes to his or her mind. Each response is timed and any deviation in response indicates the presence of a complex connected to the meaning of the given word. Jung, himself, showed eleven complexes when given the test.

Word association tests provide information that allows the administrator to undertake additional forensic testing for such conditions as schizophrenia, depression, and obsessive-compulsion, to name a few. It also indicates the presence of neurosis, which is where the personality is split. In addition to observing the response times and gestures in the answers to each word, Jung used a galvanometer to chart changes in heart rate. This test, as he designed it, continues to be used to this day as the lie detector test.

Nancy Furlotti has lectured nationally and internationally on many Jungian subjects, as well as published articles. Her newest book, The Dream and Its Amplification, is due out June 15, 2013, and is available for preorder through Amazon.com. It is co-edited with Dr. Erel Shalit with whom she has worked to ensure the upcoming publication of the Carl Jung- Eric Neumann Correspondence.

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