The Rorschach Test and the history of its origins

The Rorschach Test and the history of its origins

The Rorschach inkblot test is a projective psychological test consisting of 10 ink stains printed on cards (five in black and white, five in color) created around 1921 by Hermann Rorschach. During the 1940s and 1950s, the test was widely used and was synonymous with clinical psychology.

Despite its widespread use, this type of diagnostic test has also been the center of much controversy. It has often proved difficult for researchers to study the test and its results systematically, due to the numerous variability of the responses given by the patients for each ink stain.


  • 1 The history of the Rorschach
  • 2 The different scoring systems of Rorschach
  • 3 What Rorschach spots measure

The history of the Rorschach

Hermann Rorschach never made it clear where I get the idea of ​​developing this type of test. However, like most children of his time, he often played the popular game called Blotto (Klecksographie), which involved the creation of word associations playing with ink stains. Ink stains could easily be bought in many stores back then. It is also believed that a great friend and personal teacher, Konrad Gehring, could have suggested the use of ink stains as a psychological tool.

When Eugen Bleuler coined the term schizophrenia in 1911, Rorschach became very interested in the subject and wrote his doctoral thesis on hallucinations (Bleuler was president of the Rorschach dissertation). In his work with patients with schizophrenia, Rorschach discovered that they responded very differently to the Blotto game than other individuals not affected by the disease. For this reason I make a brief report on this finding for the local psychiatric society, although nothing else came out at that time. It was not until Rorschach established himself as a psychiatrist at the Krombach hospital in Russia in Herisau in 1917 that he was genuinely interested in systematically studying the Blotto game.

Rorschach used about 40 ink stains in his original studies between 1918 and 1921, but would administer only about 15 of them regularly for their patients. It collected data from 405 subjects (including 117 healthy people that I use as a control group). Its scoring method minimizes the importance of content, rather than focusing on how to classify responses by their different characteristics. He did this through a set of codes to determine the answers that referred to the set of ink spots. (W) for example was an important detail, (D) to a lesser detail, (F) was used to mark the shape of the ink stain, and (C) to be noted if the answer included the color.

Between 1919 and 1920, I try to find an editor for his findings and the 15 inkblot letters he used regularly. However, all of them resisted the publication of the 15 ink stains because of printing costs. Finally in 1921, an editorial (The House of Bircher) was found ready to publish its ink stains, but only 10 of them. Rorschach reworked his manuscript to include only 10 of the 15 ink stains he used most frequently.

The printer, unfortunately, was not very good and could not be completely faithful to the original ink stains. For example, the original Rorschach ink stains had no changes in hue, they were all shown in solid colors. It was the reproduction of the original printer that included this characteristic shading. Luckily, Rorschach was quite satisfied with the introduction of this new addition to its ink stains. Shortly after the publication of his monograph on ink stains, entitled Form and Interpretation, he died in 1922 after being admitted to a hospital for severe abdominal pain. Rorschach died at the age of 37, of which he had been formally working on his ink stain test of only about four.

The different scoring systems of Rorschach

Before the 1970s, there were up to five different scoring systems on how people responded to ink stains. The most popular were the Klopfer and Beck systems. Three others that were used less frequently were the Hertz, Piotrowski and the Rapaport-Schafer systems. In 1969, John E. Exner, Jr. published the first comparison of these five systems with rights The Rorschach Systems.

Exner concluded that the five systems differed so dramatically and significantly, that it was as if five completely different Rorschach tests had been created. That's why I think it was time to revisit the entire study.

Taking into account the work of Exner, it was decided to carry out the creation of a new system of Rorschach much more comprehensive in terms of scoring systems, which would take into account the best components of these five previous systems, combined the wide empirical research on each component. This important research achieved the creation of a new scoring system for the old Rorschach test. That was how In 1973, Exner published the first edition of the Rorschach: An integral system. In it he presented a new scoring system that would become the new standard and the only scoring system used to date.

What Rorschach spots measure

In the beginning, the Rorschach inkblot test was not intended to be a projective measure of personality. His goal was to reproduce a profile of people with schizophrenia (or other mental disorders) based on scoring frequencies. Rorschach himself was skeptical about the usefulness of his test as a projective measure.

The Rorschach test is, at its most basic level, it is a problem-solving task where an image is provided to the analyzed person, which shows part of their innermost thoughts by offering a subjective response in the interpretation of the what do you see Imagination is very often involved looking for the beautification of the answer, but the basic process has little to do with imagination or creativity, and more with one's own personality.