Word Association Test (WAT) Overview – SSB Psychology Test

Word Association Test (WAT) is the Second test at Service Selection Boards in Psychologist series. WAT is designed to assess your personality traits, like all other tests administered by the psychologist, through the responses given by you in your psychology test booklet. This is one of the important personality tests used by Services Selection Boards.

This test was first introduced by the famous psychologist Galton in 1879 and later improved upon by Freud and Jung. It was, then, meant and used to give an insight into the personality of the child under test through his imagination. Service Selection Boards (SSB) have also adopted the same procedure and approach of judging the candidate’s emotional attitude and temperament because it is observed that different persons react differently to the same situation. Psychologists who initially developed this test calculated the reaction time and behaviour of the candidates. But, psychologists in SSBs don’t take into consideration the behaviour of the candidates as the test is given to large groups at a time.

In the case of WAT, the same word evokes different ideas, feelings and emotions in different persons. In other words, the same WAT word can be seen as being associated with different traits of personality of the individual tested. To understand how two different persons can react to the same situation differently, let us take the example that if the word given is ‘difficult‘, there may be two responses as given below:-

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(a) `It is difficult to achieve targets.’ This shows ‘lack of self-confidence’ on the part of the candidate.
(b) ‘Difficult situations makes a man.’ This shows ‘self-confidence’ and ‘positive attitude’ on the part of the candidate.

Conduct of Word Association Test (WAT)

The most commonly used method of conducting this test is that the individual is shown words printed on card board strips and he is required to write in the form of a complete sentence or a phrase, the first thought that comes to his mind on seeing the word. Each word is generally shown for 15 sec and candidates are required to write the first thought that comes to their mind after reading that word. Likewise, he is shown a total of 60 words in quick succession. The word shown to him triggers his impetus and he writes the idea with which he ‘associates’ the word. This is why it is called the Word Association Test (WAT).

The psychologist transliterate the ideas expressed by the candidates and makes his conclusions about the type of personality the examinee possesses. It should be remembered that no single response in a WAT will be taken into account, but, your responses collectively will show your true/general behaviour and positive/negative personality traits. Several reactions considered together helps the psychologist to form an idea of the pattern of personality of the individual.

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The time limit for writing the reaction to each word is generally restricted to 15 seconds. As stated earlier this time limit has been intentionally shortened so as to ensure that the candidate gives his first reaction which comes to his mind. Each word is specifically selected so that the candidate’s responses point to certain qualities possessed by him. The candidates are, therefore, advised to give spontaneous and not deliberate responses so that their true personalities are revealed. The psychologist keeps noting the various personality traits disclosed by the candidate taking into account each response. Psychologist then sums up these qualities and outlines a vivid sketch of the candidate’s personality.

Well, this is not the end. The end-results of the WAT is again compared and verified with what you have written in the PIQ form. So, the sentences written by you must be spontaneous, natural, meaningful, positive and should relate to your own personal qualities.

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