Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Rorschach Test "Answers" on Wikipedia

The New York Times has an article in which some stuffy psychologists complain that the most common Rorschach ink blot test answers have been posted on Wikipedia's Rorschach test page.

What had been a simmering dispute over the reproduction of a single plate reached new heights in June when James Heilman, an emergency-room doctor from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, posted images of all 10 plates to the bottom of the article about the test, along with what research had found to be the most popular responses for each.

First of all, I did not realize "Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan" was a real place. I thought it was made-up for the Canadian sit-com "Corner Gas." Second of all, and more important than that- what do psychologists care?

“The more test materials are promulgated widely, the more possibility there is to game it,” said Bruce L. Smith, a psychologist and president of the International Society of the Rorschach and Projective Methods, who has posted under the user name SPAdoc. He quickly added that he did not mean that a coached subject could fool the person giving the test into making the wrong diagnosis, but rather “render the results meaningless.”

So, you can't fool the person giving the test into misdiagnosing you, but you can render the results of the test meaningless. The test that was just given by the person you can't fool into misdiagnosing you. Just so we're clear.

Still, I have to wonder, if you can't fool the person giving the test, why are they so concerned?

And, more fundamentally, the psychologists object whenever diagnostic tools fall into the hands of amateurs who haven’t been trained to administer them. “Our ethics code that governs the behavior of psychologists talks about maintaining test security,” Steve J. Breckler, the executive director for science at the American Psychological Association, said in an interview. “We wouldn’t be in favor of putting the plates out where anyone can get hold of them.”

Aha! Now, we're getting somewhere. The uneducated laypeople can't be trusted with this amazing diagnostic tool. Because they're not trained to use them. Because they're so complicated.

I really don't understand what the big deal is, anyway, since every ink blot depicts the same thing: My mother, holding a rolling pin and berating me for being a failure.

1 comment:

shampoo said...

so what happens if they give this test to someone whose occupation would naturally lead them to more creative answers? like an artist or even a biologist?