Projective Tests: What do you see?

Probably one of the most iconic tests that jump to mind when a person starts talking about going to a psychologist (or ‘shrink’) is the inkblot tests.  These tests, correctly referred to as the Rorschach Inkblot tests were surrounded in ‘secrecy’ as practicing psychologists who used them thought that the tests would be invalid if they had been seen previously.

The Rorschach Inkblot tests are one of a type of test called a ‘projective’ test which are supposedly meant to give insight into a persons psyche and allow us to rate how ‘healthy a personality’ a person has.  The validity of these types of tests was debated with many who were not avid fans of Freudian thinking and psychoanalysis dismissing them and questioning the objectivity of these tests.

Either way, thanks to wikipedia, we can now see the full selection of 10 inkblots that were created by Rorschach all those years ago.  Don’t accept imitations – these are the only 10 ‘official’ inkblots that were created by Rorschach.

These might come in useful when talking about Eve White / Black / Jane in Thigpen and Cleckley’s case study of multiple personality where they administered these tests to the three personalities which emerged throughout the duration of her consultation with the pair.

What do you see?

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15 Responses to “Projective Tests: What do you see?”

  1. Andreas Beer November 28, 2008 at 6:09 pm #

    Projective Tests are not exactly scientific psychology…

  2. Jamie Davies November 28, 2008 at 7:32 pm #

    I agree completely – I don’t think that any ‘projective’ test can really be classified in the same league as psychometric testing. I have massive issues about the validity of such tests and the reliability across practitioners using these.

    Thanks for your comments.


  3. SUNITA R JAIN December 28, 2008 at 9:27 am #

    agree with u but it still depends on indiviual 2 individual

  4. Vlad Dolezal February 21, 2009 at 11:43 pm #

    Anybody else see two dancing elephants in the second picture? :p

  5. psych student February 23, 2009 at 2:18 pm #

    No, I see two sumo wrestlers squaring up to fight… but tomorrow, if you asked me, I might see something else. I don’t think these tests have any real value, other than as a starting point for conversations.

  6. Vlad Dolezal February 24, 2009 at 2:47 pm #

    @psych student:
    Well, I haven’t seen any research into this, so I can’t say if the tests are any good.

    But if I wanted to get some insight into a person’s personality, I’m pretty sure I could do a lot of better things than letting them tell me what they see in some ink blots.

    It might work as a conversation starter though… (“Hey, see this red-wine stain on the tablecloth I just made? What do you see in it? … Oh, you see that I’m a dick who doesn’t know how to behave in a restaurant?”). Gotta try it sometime :p

  7. Liam - Titanic Divx May 11, 2009 at 10:49 am #

    You know what? in this picture there is nothing this secial, but still when colorized it looks relly great! It so cool to make something worthy just out of nothing! it’s a real art! great, i like it!

  8. Basuki Hardjo May 11, 2009 at 11:16 am #

    pProjective Tests are very speculative.

  9. Kelley Sitz July 30, 2009 at 4:54 am #

    Second picture to me looks like you hairy trolls with hats clapping hands, …….just for entertainment purposes :)

  10. Michael Wade, PhD July 3, 2010 at 1:59 pm #

    Is there even one person here who has actually read Exner and reviewed the research? Apparently not. When examiners are properly trained, there is very good inter-rater scoring reliability and good validity if one understands the instrument and the research.

  11. London Counselling September 6, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

    Whatever you see from your sight that does not conclude what you really are after seeing the vision you have had. I believe that not all the tests give such definition to whoever you are. Tests are sometimes, just tests for assessment but is not the total fact about you.

  12. Dr X November 17, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    “Is there even one person here who has actually read Exner and reviewed the research?”

    Yes, I have. I’m not sure why it’s the case, but an extraordinary number of people in the field are unacquainted with the extensive research-based standardization of Rorschach administration, scoring and interpretation. Psychologist blogger John Grohol also did a review of the test some time back. As I remember it, he approached the subject as a doubter and was quite surprised when he actually dug into the research. That similar to my early experience in graduate school when I’d initially assumed that the Rorschach had little research support. Then I encountered Exner and continued from there. It changed everything. I wouldn’t dream of doing a complete eval without including a Rorschach. I also studied Rorschach with Ann Beck along the way, which only deepened my appreciation, for the art along with the science of using the Rorschach.

    One thing the Rorschach can be helpful with is that faking good is very common in the use of objectives in certain settings. Faking good on a Rorschach is like attempting to fake good on a Calculus exam. If you’re not able to do it, you can’t fake it. With objectives, you can be so defensive or lie, invalidating the results. On the Rorschach faking good simply isn’t possible. This becomes obvious only when you understand how the Rorschach is actually scored and interpreted.

  13. Dr Y May 24, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    I agree with Dr X. Once one has scored a Rorschach using Exner’s method, one has to agree that it is a valuable psychometric instrument. What I am amazed at is how bias UK practitioners and universities are against projective testing and do not teach it in post graduate psychology doctoral programs. These tests are used widely around the world because they have significant and valid results that help us in our understanding of an individual. Because such tests use the patients own perception they do not fit into standard British Empiricism expectations and are unjustifiably excluded in psychometric assessment – but only in the UK. Doesn’t anyone else think this is odd.


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