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Rorschach Inkblot Test
By Peter Reilly, Psy.D. on January 8th, 2007
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.
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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