Test Information

What is the inkblot test?

The infamous inkblot personality test, also known as the Rorschach inkblot test, or the Rorschach technique, is a psychological test where subjects’ perceptions of inkblots are recorded, and analyzed using psychological interpretation and complex algorithms. Some psychologists use this test to examine personality characteristics and emotional functioning. It has been employed to detect underlying thought disorder, especially in cases where patients are reluctant to describe their thinking processes openly. The test is named after its creator, Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach.


How it works

The purpose of the test is to provide data about cognition and personality variables such as motivations, response tendencies, cognitive operations, affectivity, and personal/interpersonal perceptions. The underlying assumption is that an individual will class external stimuli based on person-specific perceptual sets, and including needs, base motives, conflicts, and that this clustering process is representative of the process used in real-life situations.


When Hermann Rorschach developed the inkblot test in 1921, it was the first systematic approach using interpretation of “ambiguous designs” to assess an individual’s personality.

After studying 300 mental patients and 100 control subjects in 1921, Rorschach wrote his book Pschyodiagnostik, which was to form the basis of the inkblot test (after experimenting with several hundred inkblots, he selected a set of ten for their diagnostic value), but he died the following year. Although he had served as Vice President of the Swiss Psychoanalytic Society, Rorschach had difficulty in publishing the book and it attracted little attention when it first appeared.

Rorschach never intended the inkblots to be used as a general personality test, but developed them as a tool for the diagnosis of schizophrenia. It was not until 1939 that the test was used as a projective test of personality.

What will you see?


The 10 inkblots

It has been suggested that Rorschach’s use of inkblots may have been inspired by German doctor Justinus Kerner who, in 1857, had published a popular book of poems, each of which was inspired by an accidental inkblot. French psychologist Alfred Binet had also experimented with inkblots as a creativity test, and, after the turn of the century, psychological experiments where inkblots were utilized multiplied, with aims such as studying imagination and consciousness.

Interviewed in 2012 for a BBC Radio 4 documentary, Rita Signer, curator of the Rorschach Archives in Bern, Switzerland, suggested that far from being random or chance designs, each of the blots selected by Rorschach for his test had been meticulously designed to be as ambiguous and “conflicted” as possible.


Symmetry of the inkblots

Each of the blots has near perfect bilateral symmetry. Five inkblots are of black ink, two are of black and red ink and three are multicoloured, on a white background.

A striking characteristic of the Rorschach inkblots is their symmetry. Many unquestionably accept this aspect of the nature of the images but Rorschach, as well as other researchers, certainly did not. Rorschach experimented with both asymmetric and symmetric images before finally opting for the latter. He gives this explanation for the decision:

Asymmetric figures are rejected by many subjects; symmetry supplied part of the necessary artistic composition. It has a disadvantage in that it tends to make answers somewhat stereotyped. On the other hand, symmetry makes conditions the same for right and left handed subjects; furthermore, it facilitates interpretation for certain blocked subjects. Finally, symmetry makes possible the interpretation of whole scenes.

Rorschach. H., Psychodiagnostik; a diagnostic test based on perception : including Rorschach’s paper, The application of the form interpretation test (published posthumously by Dr. Emil Oberholzer). Grune & Stratton inc, New York (1942). p15.

The impact of symmetry in the Rorschach inkblot’s has also been investigated further by other researchers.


BestBlot test limitations

Although based on the original 10 Rorschach inkblots, this test has limitations in terms of the number of psychological conditions which it accurately diagnoses and should be used for entertainment purpose only. Please do not use inkblot test results for mental health or clinical diagnoses.