Assessing Narcissism Using Rorschach-Based Imagery and Behavior Validated by Clinician Reports: Studies With Adult Patients and Nonpatients

Assessment. 2018 Oct;25(7):898-916. doi: 10.1177/1073191117715728. Epub 2017 Jun 22.


We evaluate 11 Rorschach variables with potential for assessing grandiosity and narcissism. Seven of these variables were drawn from previous literature: Omnipotence, Idealization, Reflection, Personal Knowledge Justification, Exhibitionism, Magic, and Elevated Mood States; four were developed for this research: Expanded Personal Reference, Narcissistic Devaluation, Narcissistic Deflation, and Narcissistic Denial. Using Rorschach protocols from American normative adults and Italian adult outpatients, the dimensional structure of these variables was evaluated by principal components analysis, and validity was tested by correlations with clinician ratings of narcissism on two scales from the Shedler-Westen Assessment Procedure-200 that were made after at least five sessions with the primary clinician. A cohesive dimension was found in both data sets defined by Expanded Personal Reference, Personal Knowledge Justification, Omnipotence, and Idealization, and it was meaningfully correlated with the clinician ratings of narcissism ( M r = .41). Implications of the findings include the applicability of these variables in clinical practice and research for assessing narcissistic personality dynamics.

Keywords: Rorschach Inkblot Task; SWAP-200; grandiosity; narcissism.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Narcissism*
  • Personality Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Personality Disorders / psychology
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Rorschach Test*