Rorschach Inkblot Test the Rorschach Assessment

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In other words, instead of simply asking the patient what he sees in the inkblot, the clinician will say something like 'To you does this image look more like a person, an animal, a flower, or a food?' Juni (1993) asserts that this approach reduces the need for "trained judges" to interpret the results, and also provides a sense of standardization that maximizes the projective content.

The phenomenon known as the "expectancy effect" is also pertinent to issues of validity and reliability. The expectancy effect is based on the idea that the administrator of the test consciously or subconsciously emits signs of how he expects the subject to respond. For example he may raise his eyebrows while waiting for a response, which could in turn have an influence on how the subject answers. According to Silverstein (1993) this is a particularly important consideration in relation to the Rorschach test. The author describes an experiment by Masling in the 1960s which "demonstrated that subjects' Rorschach responses could be influenced by the subtle differential reinforcement of types of responses by the test administrator. This raises the possibility, in the absence of adequate controls, that differences in Rorschach responses between hypnotized and nonhypnotized individuals may be due, at least in part, to covertly communicated expectations about how hypnotized subjects should respond" (p. 13).

Strengths and Weaknesses

Ultimately, scholarly conjectures on the reliability and validity of the Rorschach test vary as considerably as the possibilities of responses to the inkblot cards. Accordingly, the same holds true for its strengths and weaknesses. For almost every supporter who lauds the test's usefulness in an applied setting, there is a critic completely disparaging it. For example, Butcher and Rouse (1996) assert "Much of the strength of the Rorschach method in contemporary assessment comes from the broad use of the Exner Comprehensive System (Exner 1991, 1993, 1995; Exner & Weiner 1994), which provides a more reliable and objective basis for interpretation than was available prior to its introduction" (p. 90). On the contrary, Bornstein (2005) reports numerous problems with directly connecting the Rorschach test to Exner's CS scoring model, stating, for example, "in contrast to the approach embodied in the Comprehensive System, the Rorschach is best viewed as a theory-driven evaluation of the content and structural organization of an individual's representational capacities, rather than an atheoretical, empirically-based test" (p. 109).

Multicultural Applications of the Test

One issue that has been known to affect the validity, reliability, strengths and weaknesses of a psychological testing instrument is ethnicity. There are concerns that tests that work well for individuals of one culture or ethnic background might not work is well for another. According to Wood et al. (2002) many recent studies have shown that scores from the Rorschach tend to differ significantly from the norm when applied to people of Hispanic decent. Thus, "in light of these findings, there is substantial reason to doubt whether the norms should be used with Hispanic adults and children in the United States" (p. 522).


The Rorschach inkblot test is one of the most famous and widely used psychological tests in existence. There have been hundreds of variations to the scoring and administration procedures in attempts to strengthen the test's validity and reliability. The most common of these has been the Exner Comprehensive System model, but this has been questionable as well. There are many variables that can affect the reliability and validity of the Rorschach tests and these need to be controlled for when using the test in an applied setting. Overall, the test has been criticized and analyzed at length, yet still remains a standard in field of psychological testing.


Bornstein, R.F. (2005) Scoring the Rorschach: Seven validated systems. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Butcher, J.N., & Rouse, S.V. (1996). Personality: Individual differences and clinical assessment. Annual Review of Psychology, 47, 87-111.

Daly, W.C. (2005) Theoretical foundations of Rorschach by Piotrowski. Education 125 (44), 669-674

Harriman, P.L. (1946) Twentieth century psychology: Recent developments in psychology. New York: Philosophical Library.

Juni, S. (1993). Rorschach content psychometry and fixation theory. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 119(1), 75-98

Lovitt, R. (2004, June) An aid for scoring according to the Comprehensive System. Journal of Personality Assessment, 82 (3), 329-330.

Shakow, D. (2006) Clinical psychology as science & profession. New York: Transaction Publishers.

Silverstein, S.M. (1993) Methodological and empirical Considerations in assessing the…

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