Rorschach inkblot test belongs to projective methods of psychological assessment. The test was developed in 1921 by Herman Rorschach; nowadays it is one of the most widely used tests (Rose, Kaser-Boyd & Maloney, 2001). The goal of the test is to assess the structure of personality of the participant, to explore their cognitive structuring and perceptual meanings (Rose, Kaser-Boyd & Maloney, 2001). Using interpretations of Rorschach test, psychologists can make conclusions about the subject’s motivations, cognitive operations, perceptions, affectivity, tendencies of response, etc. (Groth-Marnat, 2012). The key idea behind Rorschach test is the assumption that the participant’s responses to the Rorschach test and their organization provides insight into how the participant reacts to ambiguous situations where judgment and/or organization are needed. The location of the inkblots emphasized by the individual, the content of responses and response determinants are used to determine category scores in Rorschach test.
The reliability and validity of Rorschach test are subject to significant psychological dispute. According to Parker (1983), the reliability of Rorschach test scores lies between low and middle .80s; this conclusion was done basing on the analysis of 39 papers which included more than 530 statistical procedures (Parker, 1983). The use of the Comprehensive System for Rorschach assessment showed even greater reliability of the test: 50% of the categories had reliability higher than .81, and 30% of the categories had reliability between .60 and .81 (Groth-Marnat,2012). Interesting conclusions regarding the reliability of Rorschach tests were obtained by Meyer (2001): if the scorers receive appropriate training, interscorer reliabilities are in the range between .82 and .97. At the same time, the test showed low reliability for children during medium or long-term periods; during short-term periods, the assessment demonstrated a reasonable stability of the results (Groth-Marnat, 2012).
The validity of Rorschach test is a complex phenomenon because the results of the test might be influenced by interpersonal variables (e.g. rapport, gender, etc.) and situational variables (convenience of the environment, clarity of instructions, etc.). Different scoring formulas used for Rorschach test also have different validity associated with each of them.
Rorschach assessment can be applied for diagnostic purposes with certain limitations. It was identified that Rorschach test can be used for predicting psychotherapy outcome, detecting psychosis and dependent behavior (Garfield, 1947). The study of Garfield (1947) indicates that Rorschach test is effective for diagnosing psychoneurotic disorders and schizophrenia.
The test proved to be efficient for detecting the signs of schizophrenia, and showed reasonable validity for identifying schizotypal personality disorder and bipolar personality disorder (Wood et al., 2000). Deviant verbalizations score can also be used for identifying the signs of borderline personality disorder (Wood et al., 2000). At the same time, identification of other types of disorders (according to DSM-IV classification) using Rorschach test is not recommended because of the lack of associations of Rorschach test results with other diagnoses (Wood et al., 2000).
Therefore, there exists numerous evidence which illustrates the validity and reliability of Rorschach personality assessment. It should be noted that Rorschach test should not be viewed as a test allowing to identify formal diagnosis, but should rather be combined with other types of personality assessment in order to provide information about the patient’s personality to the psychologist. Further research is needed to identify additional areas where Rorschach assessment can be used to gain more insight. Provided that the scorers are properly trained and the test is used for identifying the relevant areas (such as neurosis or schizophrenia), Rorschach test can be viewed as reasonably reliable and valid assessment of personality.
Garfield, S.L. (1947). The Rorschach Test in Clinical Diagnosis. In Journal of Clinical Psychology, 56 (2000), 387-393.
Meyer, G. J. & Archer, R.P. (2001). The Hard Science of Rorschach Research: What do We
Know and Where Do We Go? Psychological Assessment, 13: 486-502.
Groth-Marnat, G. (2012). Handbook of Psychological Assessment. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Parker, K. (1983). A Meta-Analysis of the Reliability and Validity of the Rorschach. Journal Of Personality Assessment, 47(3), 227-231.
Rose, T., Kaser-Boyd, N., & Maloney, M. P. (2001). Essentials of Rorschach Assessment. John Wiley& Sons, Inc.
Wood, J.M. et al. (2000). The Rorschach Test in Clinical Diagnosis: A Critical Review, with a Backward Look at Garfield (1947). Journal of Clinical Psychology, 56: 395-430.