In 1921 Hermann Rorschach changed the psychiatric testing landscape forever when he introduced the inkblot test. These ten photographs were initially made to discern if patients were suffering from schizophrenia – but now it’s more of a personality quiz. So keeping that in mind, we’ve taken a closer look at the famous method and the responses it usually generates. What do you see?
The opening card in the Rorschach test sets the tone right away. This photo boasts a unique image with a dark color. But what do people spot when they look at it? Well, to help break things down, several “scoring systems” were put in place – such as the Piotrowski and Beck methods. Psychologist Richard Dana noted his own results too in the Handbook of Cross-Cultural and Multicultural Personality.
Let’s look at the responses from the Beck method first. Now according to that system, plenty of subjects saw three different creatures in the inkblot. Some interpreted the dark image as a bat – while others recognized a moth. Certain individuals viewed a butterfly as well. So, they’re pretty similar right?
The other two methods also produced nigh-on identical results. For instance, Dana’s study revealed that nearly 40 percent of people saw a butterfly in the photo. And in Piotrowski’s system, over 50 percent of the subjects swore that they were looking at a bat. Is there a deeper meaning behind all this, though?
Well, as the opening picture in the test, it serves an important purpose. You see, examiners will be looking out for an initial reaction from the person they’re working with – do they welcome challenging assignments? It can be quite telling, but this inkblot is arguably one of the easiest to interpret.
Unlike the first entry in the Rorschach test, Card II contains a bit more color at the top and bottom. Yes, you can see dashes of red in those spots, as well as a few drops mixed in with the darker sections. It’s very different to Card I! Anyway, you’re probably wondering how people interpret the picture.
According to the Piotrowski method, 34 percent of participants saw an animal with four legs. And Dana’s findings followed a similar path. Fifty percent of people claimed that the inkblot could be elephants, dogs or bears. But Beck’s system drew a somewhat different response from those who took the test.
As per Beck’s system, subjects looked at the inkblot as two people facing each other. Now here’s where it gets interesting. The Bustle website reported that the second card tests a person’s attitude towards anger. So, if you spot a pair of individuals coming to blows and drawing blood in the card, you could be more inclined to harbor violent thoughts.
It’s the same with the animal interpretation as well. Could you be looking at a pair of beasts engaged in combat? But the website claims there’s a chance that you might’ve spotted something a little less violent. Yes, should you view the card as two individuals bringing their hands together in a peaceful gesture, you possibly boast a serene personality.
Much like the second picture, Card III also includes some red dashes around the main section of the inkblot. It’s very slight in comparison to the fullness of the test’s opening images and doesn’t look as blotchy. Yet despite that, the responses are still quite intriguing.
The Beck and Piotrowski systems – along with Dana’s research – showed that the vast majority of test subjects saw a pair of humans on the card. Specifically, the latter two noted the numbers were 72 percent and 76 percent respectively. That seems pretty definitive! So, what was the purpose of this particular inkblot?
Well, Bustle indicated that Card III would give some insight into a person’s social skills. The suggestion is that those who fail to offer up a quick answer when looking at the inkblot might be suffering from neurosis. It could also be a sign that they’ve got a timid, uncertain personality during interactions with other people.
Now, hesitance already plays a part in the Rorschach test anyway. The website Verywell Mind noted that it’s often interpreted as a sign of “shock” by the examiners, and that can influence results. But slow reactions are especially important when dealing with the third card. As we’ve said, some deeply embedded social anxiety might be the cause.
After the last couple of entries, Card IV ditches the red splashes and sticks with the darker shade of the first photo. The similarities to Card I don’t end there, either. As you can see, this inkblot also has quite a mass to it – giving off a striking image. But what interpretations do people have of it?
Surprisingly, plenty of subjects shared the same answers. As per Beck’s system, people saw one of three things – a rug, a skin or an animal hide. The Piotrowski method mirrored that, too. That assessment saw over 40 percent claiming that the card showcased a “skin rug.” And in Dana’s findings, close to half thought they were looking at animal skin.
That’s quite a pattern! Yet this card’s true purpose is to see how you react to authority. Bustle reported that the blotchy image could be a stand-in for your employer or your folks at home. So, a negative reply to the picture might be pretty telling about your attitude. But that’s not all.
The website suggested that subjects have been known to attribute the inkblot to people’s perceptions of men. For that reason, this picture is sometimes referred to as the Rorschach test’s “Father Card.” That’s one way to view the battle of the sexes!
Off the back of the previous picture, Card V is seen as a welcome gear change within the Rorschach test. Marking the half-way point, it appears to be one of the easier inkblots to deconstruct, as it takes on a more recognizable form. That was reflected in the responses as well.
Both the Piotrowski system and Dana’s research revealed that 48 percent of participants saw a butterfly in the ink. Meanwhile, 40 percent interpreted the image as a bat under the former method. The number was a little higher in the psychologist’s book – but not by much. And what about the Beck scoring routine?
The Beck method again highlighted that people saw a butterfly or bat on the card. Mind you, another creature was thrown into the mix, too. Much like Card I, a moth also cropped up in the responses. Overall, though, this picture isn’t as divisive as some of the others on the test – for the most part anyway.
You see, the Dalum Hjallese Debate Club’s website claimed that subjects who spotted crocodile skulls in the “wings” might have malicious tendencies. Did you notice them? On top of that, experts in the field believed that multiple readings of Card V from the same individual could signal that they were schizophrenic.
Following on from the simplicity of the fifth inkblot, the Rorschach test introduces a more abstract image for Card VI. It’s one of the tallest entries in the entire catalogue and bears some resemblance to the previously mentioned Card IV. In fact, the responses mirrored those that were recorded for that particular blotch.
Yes, the Beck method once again revealed that subjects saw an animal hide, a rug or skin when looking at the image. Just under 50 percent in Dana’s study interpreted that the inkblot was animal skin too, while the Piotrowski system drew a similar number. That’s pretty interesting, right?
But does Card VI hold the same meaning as Card IV? No, it doesn’t! Whereas the latter entry was all about authority and the male gender, this one is deeply rooted in sexual relations. That’s why it’s dubbed a “Sex Card.” Like we said: it’s very different to the earlier image in the test.
According to the Dalum Hjallese Debate Club website, subjects who fail to identify the sexual connotations from this card could have issues in the bedroom. Yet other interpretations can be gleaned in addition to that. For instance, if you spot a boat and its reflection in the water, that could be a sign that you’ve got a large ego.
At first glance, Card VII might seem a little bare compared to the other images in the Rorschach test. After all, the inkblot doesn’t have anything in the middle of it. Instead, the dark marks are situated to the side – only joining up at the bottom of the image. What do people see, though?
Apparently, the Piotrowski system revealed that nearly 30 percent of participants saw a head belonging to either a lady or kid in the upper section. And 46 percent of Dana’s subjects spotted something similar – although they didn’t specify the age or sex. As for the Beck method, people noticed an additional detail.
Alongside the heads, those individuals spotted facial features, too. So what does it mean? Well, this entry is called the “Mother Card.” Much like the Father Card, it’s used to elicit a response about the ladies that you interact with every day. Apparently, any kind of hesitation could signal that there are issues on that front.
But at the same time, people have also been known to spot other images in the inkblot. The Dalum Hjallese Debate Club noted that a few participants believed they were looking at storm clouds on Card VII. If you’re in that group, there’s a suggestion that you might have an anxious personality.
No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you: that is indeed the next entry in the Rorschach test. It looks so colorful! Unlike every other inkblot thus far, Card VIII contains at least three different shades, and they’re all bright. Plus, the shape is one of the more complex that we’ve seen in the lineup.
Despite that, though, the vast majority of test subjects saw the same thing when analyzing the picture. As per the Beck system, people noticed an animal in there that wasn’t a dog or cat. The Piotrowski method and Dana’s research also revealed that more than 90 percent recognized a creature on four legs.
As for the photo’s actual meaning, the array of colors are absolutely key. You see, the idea is that those who struggle with complicated scenarios in their life might have trouble breaking down the inkblot in Card VIII. But that’s not the only message you can glean from this entry.
Bustle reported that the picture can make certain subjects feel awkward during the test. It’s thought that they might have a form of social anxiety, while others could be dealing with some mental ailments. Pretty intriguing right? It proves that Rorschach didn’t just run out of black ink on the home stretch!
Just like the previous entry, Card IX maintains the colorful patterns that have been introduced to the Rorschach test late on. Mind you, this massive inkblot is arguably even more abstract than Card VIII’s weird and wonderful shape. It’s certainly unique, and that was reflected in the responses to it.
According to the Beck method, plenty of individuals spotted a person in the orange section of the image. But here’s an interesting point to consider. Neither Dana nor the Piotrowski system could report a consistent interpretation. That’s quite surprising! Then again, the Dalum Hjallese Debate Club offered up a few alternative reactions.
As per the website, subjects have been known to see a rocket taking off in the inkblot. Card IX’s image has also drawn responses that range from blazing fires to a plant. And if that wasn’t enough, other people have spotted a mushroom cloud, too. Yet that might apparently be an indication that they’ve got a paranoid personality.
So what does Card IX mean then? Simply put, it’s the only entry in the test that doesn’t have strong connotations to a definitive issue. At best, the suggestion is that those who struggle with cluttered information will be among the group that can’t interpret the image. Though it’s rarely used for that reason.
After nine inkblots varying in shape and size, the Rorschach test comes to an end with another bright entry. But Card X is definitely the most eye-catching of the lot. Just look at it! No other picture in the lineup boasts that many colors, while the configuration itself is truly dazzling.
Even though Dana struggled to pinpoint a popular response, the Piotrowski and Beck methods had no such trouble. For instance, the latter noted that people saw one of three things in the blue markings – a spider, a crab or a lobster. As for the other system, a lengthy list was compiled.
Yes, the Piotrowski system revealed that close to 40 percent of participants saw spiders or crabs in the blue section. Another 31 percent spotted a rabbit’s head in the lighter green blot, while 28 percent spied snakes, caterpillars or worms in the darker area. According to the Dalum Hjallese Debate Club, the examiners want to hear most of those interpretations.
The belief is that Card X shows how organized you are as an individual. So if you can’t arrange information in your mind, it might be tougher to decipher. Then again, one last interpretation is said to be pretty telling. And should you spot an erupting volcano, that could be a sign of depression.