What's Wrong with the Rorschach? Science Confronts the Controversial Inkblot Test

What's Wrong with the Rorschach? Science Confronts the Controversial Inkblot Test

What's Wrong with the Rorschach? Science Confronts the Controversial Inkblot Test

What's Wrong with the Rorschach? Science Confronts the Controversial Inkblot Test


"In this brilliant, powerful book, four experts on clinical assessment expose the fatal flaws of the famous inkblot test. Casting their penetrating critique in gripping narrative form, Wood, Nezworski, Lilienfeld, and Garb have composed a requiem for the Rorschach that will fascinate anyone interested in how clinical psychology is now transcending its prescientific past." - Richard J. McNally, Ph.D., professor, Harvard University, and author of Remembering Trauma "By demolishing the misconceptions and exposing the weaknesses of the Rorschach as it is currently used today, the authors have paved the way for this infamous psychological phoenix to rise again from the ashes." - Edwin E. Wagner, Ph.D., psychologist and author, The Hand Test and The Logical Rorschach "A much-needed rigorous analysis of the Rorschach, a must-read for anyone who cares about validity issues in clinical assessment." - Gerald C. Davison, Ph.D., professor and chair, Department of Psychology, University of Southern California "A thorough, scholarly, and devastating critique of the Rorschach inkblot test. Attorneys will no doubt find the book invaluable as an aid to prepare for cross-examination of psychologists who use the Rorschach in their work." - Solomon M. Fulero, Ph.D., J.D., psychologist and attorney, professor of psychology, Sinclair College, Dayton, Ohio "Wood and his coauthors provide such a fascinating history of the immortal Rorschach inkblot test that it's easy at first to miss the troubling implications of the tale. The well-told story is so engaging that one does not have to be a nerd or combatant in the Rorschach wars to read on for fun. The sense of a serious problem magnifies as the tale unfolds, and the reader realizes that important clinical and legal decisions still routinely depend on the results of this unreliable and invalid test." - James C. Coyne, Ph.D., professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania Medical School


The Rorschach has the dubious distinction of being, simultaneously, the most cherished and the most reviled of all psychological assessment tools.

—John Hunsley and J. Michael Bailey, “The Clinical Utility of the Rorschach, ” 1999

Psychologists have been quarreling over the Rorschach Inkblot Test for almost half a century. From 1950 to the present, most psychologists in clinical practice have treasured the test as one of their most precious tools. And for nearly that long, many of their respected scientific colleagues have been trying to persuade them that the test is well-nigh worthless, a pseudoscientific modern variant on tea leaf reading and Tarot cards.

Introduced in 1921 by the Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach, the test bears a charming resemblance to a party game. A person is shown ten inkblots and asked, “What might this be?” Like swirling images in a crystal ball, the ambiguous blots tell a different story to every person who looks upon them. There are butterflies and bats, diaphanous dresses and bow ties, monkeys, monsters, and mountainclimbing bears. When scored and interpreted by an expert, people's responses to the blots are said to provide a full and penetrating portrait of their personalities.

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