"The Wartegg Test in a Nut Shell"
By Graziella Pettinati
Extracted from the ASPG Winter Conference, March 2015

While Wartegg's test is practically unknown in Anglo-Saxon countries, it is widely used in Latin America, Finland, Italy and German-speaking countries.

A peculiar feature of Wartegg's test is that, in contrast with its popularity, a lack of research exists concerning the test. The validity of the Wartegg's test has been questioned because few validity studies exist and the results of those that have been conducted are inconclusive.

Each square is blank except for a small sign, such as a dot or a line that is given as the starting point of drawing. For example, a dot is located in the center of square 1. Subjects are instructed to complete the eight drawings, incorporating the given sign into the drawing. Like other projective drawing tests, Wartegg's test is based on the assumption that the content and the qualitative aspects of the drawings reflect the personality of the person drawing.

The sized test form has eight white, 4cm x 4 cm squares in two rows on a black background.

 A               B               C               D
  E               F               G               H

Figure 1

1. The Eight Fields and Their Meanings

Field A: Self, ego, concentration, origin, identity, self-image
Field B: Flexibility, movement in society, liveliness, emotional release (outward expression of emotions)
Field C: Systematic achievement, ambition, enthusiasm, goal-directedness, persistence and conversely, a lack of orientation towards goals and achievement
Field D: The “problem” or difficulty, hardship, burden — the problematic sphere and manner of its management
Field E: Tension, aggression, opposition, accomplishment, fulfillment or drives
Field F: Integration; partiality vs completion. Isolation /separateness vs connectedness /closeness
Field G: Tenderness, sensitivity, delicacy, sociability. Shows how expressed, repressed, sublimated or open to influence
Field H: Protection. Shows where and how the subject feels protected and how he defends himself

2. Combination of Fields

Some fields can be evaluated together.
Fields A and H: Self-Image
Self-esteem and security are connected and frequently dependent on whether or not the symbiotic union with the mother was successful. A disturbance in the early development of the child can be the cause of a disturbed ego and feelings of vulnerability in later life.

Fields B and G: Sociability
Field B, emotions and ability to socialize, and Field G, sensitivity, are combined to indicate reaction towards others and sometimes the opposite sex.

Fields C and E: Achievement
The interrelationship between ambition and tension/aggression, Fields C and E, can indicate ability and productivity, work and achievement.

Fields D and F: Generalized Attitude
The greater the “problem” or “difficulty in life”, the more it calls for an integrated world perspective. These two fields, Field D and F, in combination, give hints as to the generalized attitude towards the world.

3. The Content

  • Scribblings: in general it reflects inadequate sensitivity to the appeal and indifference to the task which the person faces; possible problems socializing because he doesnít try to satisfy reasonable standards.
    - Heavy pressure + dominance of angles = tension, aggression, hostility,
      problems with interpersonal relationships
    - Soft pressure + dominance of curves = more control over feelings
  • Abstractions: in general it reflects a tendency to avoid life tasks, interpersonal communication problems, especially as a consequence of strong personal opinions held about matters, and there is no attempt to understand the otherís point of view.
  • Pictures animate nature (person and animals) = identification with the world, adequate actualization of intelligence
  • Predominance of human figures = potential for identifying with others; readiness to participate in interpersonal relationships; strives to be accepted
  • Animal figures predominate = problems with interpersonal relationships
  • Inanimate nature (foliage, landscapes) = disposed to and interested in practical matters and a sense of reality
  • Exclusively objects = unfavorable, unilateral relationship with things at the cost of communicating with others
  • Atmosphere = possible good humor; indulgent; dreaminess Symbolism (reproduction of values, ideas, e.g. emblems, a cross, flags) = an indication of the values, beliefs and goals. 1 or 2 can indicate good abilities, but more refer to orientation problems.
  • Overall picture: equilibrium (Figure 2)
  • Good balance between lines and curves
  • Good utilization of space
  • Good solutions for each field (respect of the stimulus)
  • Balance between geometrical and natural drawings
Field A: Good self-image, she is the center and at the same time at equal distance from the others
Field B: Not well defined expression of emotions (absence of the contour of the face)
Field C: Ambition to earn more money
Field D: Gambling could be seen as a problem
Figure 2: Subject A woman, 47 lawyer right-handed

Field E: Aggression is expressed with no arm, drives to achieve (arrow towards the upper right)
Field F: Importance of the family for self-preservation and integrity. Good balance with isolation (fence) and openness (door, windows)
Field G: Expression of delicacy, tenderness, sensitivity
Field H: Good sense of protection (being protected by the universe)
Figure 3: Subject B man, 48 accountant left-handed

Overall picture: difficulties (Figure 3)
  • Very low pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty to connect (a lot of broken strokes)
  • Possibility of having been abused as a child (field A, C, D, E, F and H)
Field A: Difficulty seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, not a good self-image
Field B: Difficulty seeing emotions (eye is closed and face looking at the past to the left)
Field C: Not a good solution for this stimulus. Body with no head, no hands, importance of the legs being tied together
Field D: Disconnection between the child and the kite
Field E: Difficulty expressing aggression, prefers to be at a distance to look over the situation
Field F: His integrity has been broken (discontinuous stroke between the legs of the ballerina)
Field G: Expression of delicacy, tenderness, sensitivity, again the eyes are closed
Field H: Fear, not a good sense of protection

Figure 4: Handwriting of subject A

Figure 4 - The balance between black and white, curves and angles corresponds to her Wartegg test. The ascending lines reveals the confidence and enthusiasm (boxes A and C) while the quality of the stroke reveals the sensuality and sensitivity (boxes F and H). The connections between the letters, sometimes present, absent or combined, show her ease or difficulty to make connections with people (boxes B and G). Finally, pressure and angles reveal her energy and ability to analyze rather than a need to attack to defend herself (boxes D and E).

Figure 5: Handwriting of subject B

Figure 5 - It is very interesting to see how the writing and the drawings expressed differently the anxiety and anguish expressed in the Wartegg test. While the drawings are done with light pressure and discontinuous lines, the writing is rather tense and very aggressive (angles, sharp endings). They are expressed differently. While the drawings express fragility, the writing reveals the need to protect his integrity with aggressive defense mechanisms.

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