Login
Copyright

Rorschach Test: Definition, History & Interpretation

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Sir Francis Galton: Intelligence, Eugenics & Fingerprints

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 1:55 History
  • 3:25 Scoring and Interpretation
  • 4:33 Controversy
  • 5:21 Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Robin Harley

Robin has a PhD in health psychology. She has taught undergraduate and graduate psychology, health science, and health education.

The Rorschach Test is a psychological test consisting of ten inkblots that a test-taker is asked to interpret. In this lesson, we will discuss the test's history and how Exner's Comprehensive System became the standard for scoring and interpretation.

What Is the Rorschach Test?

Have you ever seen a movie or television show where a character is given a psychological examination? Often, the character is asked to look at a piece of paper with a dark blob on it and describe 'what they see.' This is a depiction of an actual psychological test called the Rorschach Test.

Also known as the Rorschach Inkblot Test, the Rorschach Test is a psychological test consisting of ambiguous inkblots, and the test-taker is asked to provide his or her perceptions of these images. The test was designed to look for patterns of thought disorder in schizophrenia, but has evolved to include other areas, such as personality, intelligence and emotional disorders.

Most personality tests are objective in that they have standard methods of administration and scoring. In contrast, the Rorschach Test is considered projective, because the test-taker must project his or her thoughts and feelings onto ambiguous images. Interpretation falls within the realm of the tester's judgment. This has led to controversy among mental health professionals, and revisions have been made to make the test more objective, as we will discuss shortly.

So, how does a Rorschach test work? The test materials are simple, consisting of ten 24.6 x 17 cm cards with a symmetrical inkblot on each. Five ink blots are black and white; two are black, white and red; and three are pastel colors. The first phase of the test is free association, in which the test-taker interprets each card. In the second phase, the tester will ask for elaboration on why the test-taker saw certain things. Let's take a closer look at the test's origins and how it has evolved over time.

This is an example of a Rorschach Inkblot. What do you see?
Rorschach Inkblot

History of the Rorschach Test

Hermann Rorschach, a Swiss psychiatrist, studied mental patients using hundreds of carefully designed inkblots. The patterns on the inkblots were meant to be ambiguous and not have an easily identifiable shape. He discovered that patients with schizophrenia perceived the inkblots much differently than other patients. After his experiments, he narrowed the inkblots down to a set of ten, and these formed the original inkblot test.

Rorschach created the test to aid in diagnosis of schizophrenia. He wrote the book Psychodiagnostik, which contained information on the test. He initially had difficulty finding interest in this work. He died the following year, and it wasn't until 1927 when a newly established publisher took on the work.

Samuel Beck and Bruno Klopfer revised the test to be used as a measure of personality in the late 1930s. In the 1960s, John E. Exner revised the original scoring system in order to make it more standardized and to improve its statistical validity. Exner's Comprehensive System of Scoring remains popular today in the U.S.

Although Rorschach only intended for the test to be used for diagnosing disordered thought in schizophrenia, the test evolved to include measurement of personality, intelligence and emotional disorders. Let's take a closer look at how Exner improved on the scoring and interpretation of the test.

Scoring and Interpretation

Exner found Rorschach's original sample of research participants and the test's scoring system to be outdated. He wanted to make the test more statistically sound, so he administered it to a non-patient sample of 450 people. This sample served as a comparison for test responses that might deviate from this group. He created a scoring system by writing codebooks and worksheets to help clinicians interpret results as consistently as possible.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a teacher
What is your educational goal?
 Back

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 10 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 95 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account
Support