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.