The Rorschach test is used almost exclusively by psychologists.
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Douglas Kelley and psychologist Gustave Gilbert administered the Rorschach test to the 22 defendants in the Nazi leadership group prior to the first Nuremberg trials. Many psychologists in the United Kingdom do not trust its efficacy and it is rarely used. Shortly after publication of Rorschach's book, a copy found its way to Japan where it was discovered by one of the country's leading psychiatrists in a second-hand book store.
He was so impressed that he started a craze for the test that has never diminished. Some skeptics consider the Rorschach inkblot test pseudoscience ,   as several studies suggested that conclusions reached by test administrators since the s were akin to cold reading. There is nothing in the literature to encourage reliance on Rorschach interpretations. McCall writes p. A report by Wood and colleagues had more mixed views: "More than 50 years of research have confirmed Lee J. Cronbach's final verdict: that some Rorschach scores, though falling woefully short of the claims made by proponents, nevertheless possess 'validity greater than chance' p.
It is also used regularly in research on dependency, and, less often, in studies on hostility and anxiety. Furthermore, substantial evidence justifies the use of the Rorschach as a clinical measure of intelligence and thought disorder. The basic premise of the test is that objective meaning can be extracted from responses to blots of ink which are supposedly meaningless. Supporters of the Rorschach inkblot test believe that the subject's response to an ambiguous and meaningless stimulus can provide insight into their thought processes, but it is not clear how this occurs.
Also, recent research shows that the blots are not entirely meaningless, and that a patient typically responds to meaningful as well as ambiguous aspects of the blots. An intense dialogue about the wallpaper or the rug would do as well provided that both parties believe. In the s, research by psychologists Loren and Jean Chapman showed that at least some of the apparent validity of the Rorschach was due to an illusion.
At this time homosexuality was regarded as a psychopathology , and the Rorschach was the most popular projective test.
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The Chapmans investigated the source of the testers' false confidence. In one experiment, students read through a stack of cards, each with a Rorschach blot, a sign and a pair of "conditions" which might include homosexuality. The information on the cards was fictional, although subjects were told it came from case studies of real patients.
The students still reported seeing a strong positive correlation. The Chapmans called this phenomenon " illusory correlation " and it has since been demonstrated in many other contexts. A related phenomenon called "invisible correlation" applies when people fail to see a strong association between two events because it does not match their expectations.
Homosexual men are more likely to see a monster on Card IV or a part-animal, part-human figure in Card V. The subjects missed these perfect associations and instead reported that invalid signs, such as buttocks or feminine clothing, were better indicators. In , the psychologist Stuart Sutherland argued that these artificial experiments are easier than the real-world use of the Rorschach, and hence they probably underestimated the errors that testers were susceptible to. He described the continuing popularity of the Rorschach after the Chapmans' research as a "glaring example of irrationality among psychologists".
Some critics argue that the testing psychologist must also project onto the patterns. A possible example sometimes attributed to the psychologist's subjective judgement is that responses are coded among many other things , for "Form Quality": in essence, whether the subject's response fits with how the blot actually looks.
Superficially this might be considered a subjective judgment, depending on how the examiner has internalized the categories involved. But with the Exner system of scoring, much of the subjectivity is eliminated or reduced by use of frequency tables that indicate how often a particular response is given by the population in general. Third parties could be used to avoid this problem, but the Rorschach's inter-rater reliability has been questioned. That is, in some studies the scores obtained by two independent scorers do not match with great consistency.
When interpreted as a projective test, results are poorly verifiable. The Exner system of scoring also known as the "Comprehensive System" is meant to address this, and has all but displaced many earlier and less consistent scoring systems. It makes heavy use of what factor shading, color, outline, etc. Disagreements about test validity remain: while the Exner proposed a rigorous scoring system, latitude remained in the actual interpretation, and the clinician's write-up of the test record is still partly subjective.
Nevertheless, there is substantial research indicating the utility of the measure for a few scores.
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Several scores correlate well with general intelligence. One such scale is R, the total number of responses; this reveals the questionable side-effect that more intelligent people tend to be elevated on many pathology scales, since many scales do not correct for high R: if a subject gives twice as many responses overall, it is more likely that some of these will seem "pathological".
There is some evidence that the Deviant Verbalizations scale relates to bipolar disorder. The authors conclude that "Otherwise, the Comprehensive System doesn't appear to bear a consistent relationship to psychological disorders or symptoms, personality characteristics, potential for violence, or such health problems as cancer".
It is also thought that the test's reliability can depend substantially on details of the testing procedure, such as where the tester and subject are seated, any introductory words, verbal and nonverbal responses to subjects' questions or comments, and how responses are recorded. Exner has published detailed instructions, but Wood et al. Similarly, the procedures for coding responses are fairly well specified but extremely time-consuming leaving them very subject to the author's style and the publisher to the quality of the instructions such as was noted with one of Bohm's textbooks in the s  as well as clinic workers which would include examiners being encouraged to cut corners.
United States courts have challenged the Rorschach as well. Jones v Apfel stated quoting from Attorney's Textbook of Medicine that Rorschach "results do not meet the requirements of standardization, reliability, or validity of clinical diagnostic tests, and interpretation thus is often controversial". Bogacki stated under oath "many psychologists do not believe much in the validity or effectiveness of the Rorschach test"  and US v Battle ruled that the Rorschach "does not have an objective scoring system.
Another controversial aspect of the test is its statistical norms. Exner's system was thought to possess normative scores for various populations. But, beginning in the mids others began to try to replicate or update these norms and failed. In particular, discrepancies seemed to focus on indices measuring narcissism , disordered thinking, and discomfort in close relationships. The accusation of "over-pathologising" has also been considered by Meyer et al. The test is also controversial because of its common use in court-ordered evaluations. Weiner co-developer with John Exner of the Comprehensive system has stated that the Rorschach "is a measure of personality functioning, and it provides information concerning aspects of personality structure and dynamics that make people the kind of people they are.
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Sometimes such information about personality characteristics is helpful in arriving at a differential diagnosis, if the alternative diagnoses being considered have been well conceptualized with respect to specific or defining personality characteristics". Exner and others have claimed that the Rorschach test is capable of detecting suicidality.
Psychologists object to the publication of psychological test material out of concerns that a patient's test responses will be influenced " primed " by previous exposure. The Canadian Psychological Association takes the position that, "Publishing the questions and answers to any psychological test compromises its usefulness" and calls for "keeping psychological tests out of the public domain. From a legal standpoint, the Rorschach test images have been in the public domain for many years in most countries, particularly those with a copyright term of up to 70 years post mortem auctoris.
They have been in the public domain in Hermann Rorschach's native Switzerland since 70 years after the author's death, or 50 years after the cut-off date of , according to Swiss copyright law. William Poundstone was, perhaps, first to make them public in his book Big Secrets , where he also described the method of administering the test.
The American Psychological Association APA has a code of ethics that supports "freedom of inquiry and expression" and helping "the public in developing informed judgments". The APA has also raised concerns that the dissemination of test materials might impose "very concrete harm to the general public". It has not taken a position on publication of the Rorschach plates but noted "there are a limited number of standardized psychological tests considered appropriate for a given purpose". On September 9, , Hogrefe attempted to claim copyright over the Rorschach ink blots during filings of a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization against the Brazilian psychologist Ney Limonge.
These complaints were denied. Psychologists have sometimes refused to disclose tests and test data to courts when asked to do so by the parties citing ethical reasons; it is argued that such refusals may hinder full understanding of the process by the attorneys, and impede cross-examination of the experts. APA ethical standard 1. Controversy ensued in the psychological community in when the original Rorschach plates and research results on interpretations were published in the "Rorschach test" article on Wikipedia.
James Heilman , an emergency room physician involved in the debate, compared it to the publication of the eye test chart : though people are likewise free to memorize the eye chart before an eye test, its general usefulness as a diagnostic tool for eyesight has not diminished.