Journal article Open Access

Roots of the Rorschach controversy

Garb, Howard N.; Wood, James M.; Lilienfeld, Scott O.; Teresa Nezworski, M.

The controversy surrounding the Rorschach is updated, and an analysis of its dynamics is offered. Results on normative data and validity are reviewed, followed by a summary of, and rebuttal to, arguments made by Rorschach advocates. We argue that the current controversy can be traced, at least in part, to two unwarranted beliefs. First is the belief that informal impressions and popularity provide dependable evidence for evaluating validity. Second is the belief that Rorschach scores with low individual validity are likely to yield much higher levels of validity if they are interpreted in combination with each other, or with other sources of information, by experts. After presenting historical background information, we show how several arguments made recently in defense of the test reflect these two beliefs, even though they are contradicted by research findings. We conclude that a variety of other divisive conflicts in clinical psychology are related to the inappropriate weight placed on informal and unsystematic impressions relative to systematic research.

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