Are Rorschach tests still taken seriously?

Once used to commit people to institutions or test their sanity for trials.
Do they still do that?

Well, enough to raise a ruckus —>

The primary use of the Rorschach test is to detect people who are actually crazier than they are admitting to be. If, for instance, you are hearing voices telling you that Martians will soon be transmitting Obama’s real birth certificate to you via secret code on tonight’s episode of American Idol, and you don’t want people to think you are nuts, you will likely have the sense not to mention said voices and to deny that you are hearing them if directly asked. On “projective” tests like the Rorschach, where it’s not so obvious what the “right” answer is, it is much harder to fake being “normal”. Although I am not sufficiently trained to administer Rorschachs, I have seen several tests and administered some under supervision, and it can really be quite impressive.

So, yes, the Rorschach is still “taken seriously” when administered and interpreted by trained professionals as one part of a comprehensive battery of psychological tests.

That being said, nobody is going to be committed to an institution or deemed unfit to stand trial* solely* because they thought that one bit looked like a bat when anyone can see it looks more like a butterfly.

[Disclaimer] I’m giving you my impression of the issue here, so in advance, I have no cites nor the desire to dig any up [/disclaimer]

Properly administered, using something standardized like Exner’s system of scoring and interpretation, the Rorschach can add a lot to a psychological battery. But you always want a battery. Depending on the referral question, an MMPI, an IQ test, mental status exam and a projective test (like the Rorschach) at a minimum. This can be very helpful from a clinical, diagnostic and psychotherapeutic standpoint. My sense from talking from many colleagues is that legal decisions made based on a Rorschach are not something you’d want to, say, try to defend in court. There are tests which are much easier to defend.
Without a standardized scoring system, etc., the Rorschach is a parlor game.

And it IS really screwed up to even post the actual cards anywhere, let alone potential responses. The test is standardized upon the assumption that the subject has not seen the cards before. That said, my all-time favorite “crazy” response?
Examiner: What might this be?
Subject: A horrible smell, please take it back!

My understanding from talking to people trained in the test is that the “crazy” answers are a lot different from what people expect. It’s not that in one ink blot, butterflies are normal and penis clown demon is psychotic. In fact there are surprisingly few common interpretations of each ink blot that most people will observe.

A disturbing reaction might be to, for instance, focus on an extremely tiny aspect of the inkblot in great detail while ignoring the larger image. Or for all your observations to be framed around the white space rather than the blotted ink. That’s just what I recall from a conversation over a beer with a psychologist who evidently didn’t respect the confidentiality of the test.

Standardized scoring aside I feel better knowing that I know too much about the test for any ethical psychologist to administer it. I believe the backlash about the test, at least among lay people, isn`t in committing people to institutions but in being ordered to take the test as part of a child custody suit, for example, or some other serious but not quite as invidious use as commital.


Sorry…Watchmen reference.

A guy goes to a psychiatrist for an eval.
The psych shows him some inblot tests.
He asks the guy what he sees in the first one.
Guy says, “I see a naked lady.”
Psych shows him another one,
guy says he sees a man and a woman having sex.
Psych shows him a third one,
the the guy says he sees to women and a man having a three-way.
Psych says, “Mr. Jones, you certainly seem to see a lot of sexual imagery in the ink blots.”
Guy says, “Don’t look at me, Doc, you’re the one with the dirty pictures.”

They are sometimes used as but one way to evaluate a person. Also, sometimes psychs will use common sayings like, “What does ‘a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush’ mean?”

I saw this question asked on a tv special about serial killers and the SK said, “Well, if you got one in the hand you can crush him for sure whereas the other would be harder to crush.” The SK said it matter of factly with a completely straight and had a look on his face that said, “Well, duh, doc, isn’t it obvious?” It gave me creepy chills.

Am I crazy for asking why they can’t just create more ink-blots? I mean, it doesn’t really matter what they look like, right? I would expect a baseline survey would have to be done to make comparisons, but that’s not a hard thing to do.

Which begs the question, why not new blots every few decades? I’d assumed the blots were continually done, more or less every time, and just as ice breakers. Then you’d judge whether the answers were whimsical or angry, social or paranoid.

I just realized why they don’t - it’s because it’s all a crock.
Seriously, the quack medical techniques are the ones administered by what Eric Hoffer wrote as The True Believers.
These are not scientists, not thinkers, but practitioners, followers.
Just as chiropractors and acupuncturists always have mystical wall charts from the 20’s.

Uh, thanks for that, Brainiac.:rolleyes:

At this point these particular blots are what all the standardization and existing research has been done with. It would all need to be re-done on new blots. Just like the WAIS (IQ test) is always done with a particular set of questions. That’s how you get norms - standardization.

Are those who create the most inventive lies the sanest, or the craziest?

They don’t need new blots for the reason, the tests are not really used to determain if you’re “crazy” but if you’re faking.

If you’re faking you apt to memorize a set of answers or answer in a way that’s consistant with available data.

If you’re crazy you don’t give a damn and will answer differently.

I think the movies and TV give a very wrong impression about how easily it is to commit people. I had a neighbor who worked at an Illinois State Hospital, and even in the 60s, she’d say that unless you are a danger to yourself or others, it’s nearly impossible to committ someone against their will.

She said it’s a lot easier to convince people to sign themselves in rather than go through the courts. They are allowed to hold you for an “observation period” which varies but is usually 48 - 72 hours.

All of the inkblots, in color, are on the Wikipedia page for ‘Rorschach Test’, as they are now public domain in this country due to age (created prior to 1923). Does that have any impact on the utility of the test?

FWIW, I remember a psych prof of mine telling us that researchers set up a test to see if they could induce a particular response.

They gave some false scenario for the test; I don’t recall what it was. Something like telling the subjects they were testing how learning is affected by light. But they manipulated the building environment by raising the temperature, disconnecting the drinking fountains, and so on, to make subjects thirsty.

They gave a bunch of bogus procedures and trials, letting the subjects get physically uncomfortable. Then they gave them the Rorschach, and the replies were things like “It’s a swimming pool,” and “It’s a lake,” etc. The inference was that their need state influenced their responses.