rorschach test

The Rorschach Test

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Continuing our series on personality tests this post focuses on one of the most culturally famous of them all, the Inkblot test or the Rorschach Test

 

The Rorschach test is one of the most famous and also one of the controversial tests that the field of psychology has produced. Once touted as the X-Ray of the soul, the test is now a part of cultural history as it has become a reference point in various shows and movies. There’s even a comic book character based named Rorschach with an inkblot as a mask. If you haven’t heard of it or know little of, not to worry as through this post I will enlighten you about it.

 

Origins

 

Hermann Rorschach (1884-1922) was the mind behind the origin of the test. He was a young psychiatrist from Switzerland and was hailed a prodigy. He had worked along with Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung during his early years.

The idea of the test came to him from a children’s board game called Klecksography, a collection of inkblot cards. He published the test in 1921, sadly though Hermann Rorschach died less than a year before he could witness the popularity of his test.

 

What is the test about?

 

The test is a strange and a very open-ended test, in which there are 10 cards with strange markings in them. They don’t have any specific pattern to them and there is no expected answer to these inkblot cards. It’s a visual task which aims at self-projection.

Which basically means when you respond to one of these cards you are projecting your unconscious thoughts. It is a form of, what psychologists call, a projective test. By telling what they see in the inkblot, people actually telling about their views, their personality and how they project meaning and perceive reality.

 Rorschach TestImage Source – Wikipedia

 

Example of an Inkblot

 

In the image, you see an example of an inkblot card from the test. Predicted answers to this inkblot range from animal skin or skin rugs. The card signifies, according to psychologists, a threatening figure in order to elicit a sentiment of authority.

There are nine other inkblot cards like these and each is shown in a particular order according to the requirement of the test.

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Supporters of the Test

 

The test, however, is not without controversy as it has divided the whole community of psychologists. Some support the test as an important asset for a psychiatrist while the critics question its very validity.

The supporters argue that the test gives you a remarkable insight into an individual’s personality and may uncover hidden malice.

For example, on IQ tests or other standardized tests most troubled people can keep it together but studies have shown that the inkblot test reveals a different side to them.

Some psychiatrists have argued that while other tests may fail to reveal much but the Rorschach may be able to raise some red flags. For them, the 10 inkblots are sensitive and accurate tools to map how the mind works. Various researchers have used the Rorschach test to see early onsets of Alzheimer’s, which is a remarkable study.

 

Critics of the Test

 

The critics, however, question the very validity of the test. The question of validity rests with the idea what answers are reasonable, and more importantly, who decides what is reasonable. This is at the heart of the arguments against the usage of this test. The critics consider the test pseudoscience which should not be used in any kind of examination.

Other points of criticism are the implicit bias of the testing psychologist who may, unconsciously, project his/her beliefs in the responses. Some have questioned the very nature of the methodology involved measuring the personality. Finally, some have argued that the test not reliable for example, two different testers might end up getting two different personality profiles for the same individual.

 

In Conclusion

 

Despite various controversies and critics of the test, the Rorschach test is still one of the most popular tests. It is still considered valid in the court of law, various medical insurance companies in the West considers its results valid. The test is also a cultural reference point. For example, Andy Warhol, on the creative geniuses of the 20th century, created a painting based on the test. Other examples include the comic book character from Watchmen, mentioned earlier.

So, suffice it to say the Rorschach test has made a cultural mark on the society and even though it still polarises the psychiatrist community, it is still one of the most influential personality tests out there.

In the next series on Personality tests, I will trace the origins and the story of another popular personality test, the Myers-Briggs Indicator. Till then be cheers and keep exploring yourself at Brainpundits!

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