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Rorschach Inkblot Test

By Peter Reilly, Psy.D. on January 8th, 2007 Share

About this test: The Rorschach inkblot test is a method of psychological evaluation. Psychologists use this test to try to examine the personality characteristics and emotional functioning of their patients. The Rorschach is currently the second most commonly used test in forensic assessment, after the MMPI, and has been employed in diagnosing underlying thought disorder and differentiating psychotic from nonpsychotic thinking in cases where the patient is reluctant to openly admit to psychotic thinking.

More Information:

There are ten official inkblots. Five inkblots are black ink on white. Two are black and red ink on white. Three are multicolored. The psychologist shows the inkblots in a particular order and asks the patient, for each card, "What might this be?". After the patient has seen and responded to all the inkblots, the psychologist then gives them to him again one at a time to study. The patient is asked to list everything he sees in each blot, where he sees it, and what there is in the blot that makes it look like that. The blot can also be rotated. As the patient is examining the inkblots, the psychologist writes down everything the patient says or does, no matter how trivial. The psychologist also times the patient which then factors into the overall assessment.

Using the scores for these categories, the examiner then performs a series of mathematical calculations producing a structural summary of the test data. The results of the structural summary are interpreted using existing empirical research data on personality characteristics that have been demonstrated to be associated with different kinds of responses. Both the calculations of scores and the interpretation are often done electronically.

A common misconception of the Rorschach test is that its interpretation is based primarily on the contents of the response- what the examinee sees in the inkblot. In fact, the contents of the response are only a comparatively small portion of a broader cluster of variables that are used to interpret the Rorschach data.

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