Rorschach test

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The Rorschach test or Rorschach test ( ink blot test , actually: Rorschach form interpretation test ) is a projective test procedure in psychological diagnostics and personality psychology . The Rorschach test goes back to the work of the Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Hermann Rorschach (1884–1922), who developed his own personality theory and later linked it with the theories of the Freudian school. The procedure is interpreted from a depth psychological perspective . The test is controversial due to the inadequate quality criteria of psychodiagnostic methods .


The interpretation of blotchographs (folded images) was already common in the 19th century (for example with Justinus Kerner ). An early scientific publication on the subject is the 65-page dissertation by Eugen Bleuler's pupil Szymon Hens "Fantasy test with shapeless blotches in school children, normal adults and the mentally ill", Zurich 1917.

The Rorschach test was published by Ernst Bircher in 1921 after other attempts to draw conclusions about the personality from folded pictures had failed. After developing his formal interpretation method, Rorschach came into contact with Sigmund Freud's psychoanalysis, who was researching the role of the unconscious . The test was widely used in Europe and the United States in the 1930s and 1940s . After several large "schools" had developed, especially in the USA, John E. Exner developed a standardization of the procedure (CS - "Comprehensive System") in the 1970s. In Europe, Ewald Bohm's standard work on the Rorschach test is a reference.


One of the folding pictures made by Rorschach in the original color

The test consists of ten panels with specially prepared ink blot patterns. There are nearly a dozen parallel series worldwide, most of which are not freely available in stores. The psychologists who use them attach great importance to the fact that the images are not shown in public, so that the test is not influenced by anticipations (and often incorrect information that is circulating on the Internet or in “test cracker” books). The boards are shown in a fixed order, with the note that the boards can be turned as desired, and the test person is asked: “What could that be?” The psychologist points out that there are no “right” or “wrong” ones “Give answers. While the test person looks at the boards, he notes down utterances, the handling (turning) of the card and reaction times.


The evaluation relates to five main aspects:

  • the localization of which parts of the tables the person is interpreting,
  • the determinants of which aspects (shape, color, shade, movement, intermediate figures) of the board the answer relates to.
  • the content , i.e. what is perceived on the boards.
  • the frequency with which answers occur to many test persons (originality, banality)
  • the special phenomena , i.e. the phenomena that can be observed beyond the pure interpretations such as delays, stupor , response and reaction times , etc.

With the help of the subsequent backup phase, the responses are signed , i. H. Each individual answer is checked to see whether the user has recorded it correctly, as the test person meant it. Each answer is identified in terms of the first four main aspects.


In localization
G (full answer), D (detailed answer), Dd (particularly small or unusually delimited detail), DZw (intermediate figure), etc.
With the determinants
F + (“good”, recognizable, comprehensible shape - “a vase with two handles”), F- (“bad”, ie indefinite, diffuse, incomprehensible interpretation - “any animal”), B + (movement interpretation - “two fighting samurai "), FFb + (interpretation in which the shape dominates, but the color also has a meaning -" a red butterfly "), FbF (interpretation in which the color is more important than the shape -" bouquet "), Fb ( pure color interpretation - "blood", "water") etc.
With the content
Animals, animal details (e.g. heads, paws), people, human details, scenes, objects, maps, buildings, plants, etc.
With the frequencies
Vulgar answers (obvious interpretations that are often given), original answers (rare answers that only about one in a hundred interprets).

Even the signing requires a lot of specialist knowledge and a precise, objective working method.

The subsequent calculation reveals further aspects, such as succession, recording type, experience type, color type, and the relative occurrence of certain contents (e.g. animal interpretations) or recording modes (e.g. full answers).


The significance of the Rorschach test was controversial from the start. In the 1980s, a team of psychologists found that the test diagnosed “depression or severe character problems” in 80 percent of “normal individuals”. In another study, the test was carried out on prospective pilots and on patients in inpatient psychiatric treatment; the results could not find any difference between the two groups. However, the test is still used in the US, for example, in court; it is widespread in Japan and Argentina, hardly in Russia and Australia.

The Rorschach test is controversial for various reasons; the inkblot images are a priori meaningless. Therefore, critics assume that the interpretation of the form interpretation attempts can also be influenced by the psychologist and his subjective impressions and prejudices. The reliability and validity are largely unclear. In the opinion of the critics, the attempt to interpret form can, in the best case scenario, provide clues to aspects of personality, in the worst case it can simply lead to false results.

Proponents claim that expert evaluation is safe and reliable. The Rorschach test could represent many areas of personality that other psychological tests could not capture. It is also largely forgery-proof. This is mainly due to the fact that the determined data must complement and support each other in order to create a coherent overall picture.

This assessment is inadequately supported by scientific studies. As with other projective methods, the problem of the lack of reliability and validity has not yet been solved, since the multitude of combinations and the consequent, individually varying interpretations of the test factors cannot be quantified. Attempts to standardize the test, for example already suggested by Bruno Klopfer (1946), or as the American John E. Exner attempted, turn the test into a new procedure that with the original Rorschach test only includes the name and the test material has in common.


When comparing the normative data of the North American Exner system with European or South American test persons, there are some cultural differences in important variables. B. the average number of answers is the same. The differences in the quality of the shapes are partly due to culture. For example, the French recognize a chameleon on table 8, which is considered an unusual answer by members of other peoples, in Scandinavia Christmas nibbles are mentioned for table 2 and the Japanese recognize a musical instrument on table 4.

According to a study at the University of Oregon , the number of different perceived figures is correlated with the fractal complexity of the respective template . The lower the fractal complexity, the higher the number of figures.


The Rorschach test is one of the most famous psychological tests.

Because it is often mentioned or also described in popular media, the view is widespread that one can quickly and correctly grasp a complex personality or serious disorder with it, even after evaluating only one answer. That is of course impossible. If a verbatim log of all ten panels with follow-up questioning and reaction times is not available, the test cannot be evaluated. In addition, the determined personality traits must be verifiable at various points in the test.

Overall, it is not permitted to make statements based on the Rorschach test alone, or even to prepare an entire report. Serious users use it as part of a whole test battery. As a result, the test is usually checked externally.

The boards with typical answers

The Americans Loucks and Burstein give some typical answers.

See also


  • Hermann Rorschach: Psychodiagnostics. Methodology and results of a perception diagnostic experiment (interpretation of random forms). E. Bircher, Bern 1921.
  • Ewald Bohm: Textbook of Rorschach Psychodiagnostik. For psychologists, doctors and educators. Hans Huber , Bern 1951.
  • Ewald Bohm: Psychodiagnostic Vademecum. Hans Huber, Bern 1960.
  • Bruno Klopfer: The Rorschach process. Hans Huber, Bern 1967.
  • Manfred Reitz : The psychology of the blobs. In: The pharmaceutical industry. 70, No. 11, 2008, ISSN  0031-711X , pp. 1298-1300.
  • Alvin G. Burstein, Sandra Loucks: Rorschach's Test. Scoring and Interpretation . Hemisphere Publishing, New York NY et al. 1989, ISBN 0-89116-780-3 .
  • Clinical Implications of the Rorschach in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. van der Kolk BA, Ducey C. In: van der Kolk, BA (ed): Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Psychological and biological Sequelae. Washington DC American Psychiatric Press, 1984.
  • Damion Searls: The Inkblots . Simon and Schuster, 2017; ISBN 978-1-4711-3041-0 .

Web links

Commons : Rorschach test  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Rorschach test, formal interpretation test. (2019). In MA Wirtz (ed.), Dorsch - Lexicon of Psychology. Retrieved on November 26, 2019 , from
  2. Kerner J. Kleksographien. Stuttgart, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt (DVA) 1890 (posthumous)
  3. ^ Rorschach H. Psychodiagnostik. Methodology and results of a perception diagnostic experiment (interpretation of random forms). Bern, E. Bircher 1921
  4. Deborah Friedell: Bear, Bat, or Tiny King? In: London Review of Books 39.21 (November 2, 2017) pp. 23–24 (Searls review 2017).
  5. Irving B. Weiner: Principles of Rorschach interpretation . L. Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ 2003, ISBN 978-0-8058-4232-6 , pp. 53 .
  6. Why do we see so many different things in Rorschach ink blots? , Article by Ian Sample on dated February 14, 2017.
  7. see Burstein, Loucks: Rorschach's test: scoring and interpretation , p. 72: [1]