The Effects of Coding the Location of Individual Objects in a Normative Sample of Rorschach Data

J Pers Assess. 2020 Jan-Feb;102(1):124-134. doi: 10.1080/00223891.2018.1493487. Epub 2018 Aug 24.


The locations people use when constructing responses to the Rorschach task demonstrate their style of perceiving the environment. Current systems code location use into three mutually exclusive categories: use of the whole inkblot (W), common detail areas (D), and rare detail areas (Dd). The location of objects within multiobject W responses typically are never classified and those within D areas might or might not be, which could lead to a biased understanding of the visual structure embedded in the task. To better understand this structure, we systematically coded the location of all individual response objects in 145 normative protocols, finding some notable differences relative to conventional coding guidelines. Across cards, from 8% to 71% (M = 40.2%) of W responses had multiple subcomponent objects that typically are never tallied, and multiple unnumbered location areas are used more often than many specific numbered areas. To assess generalizability, we documented correspondence with location frequencies in 4,786 protocols gathered using Rorschach Performance Assessment System guidelines. The results contribute to an improved understanding of the visual structure built into the inkblot stimuli and a method for quantifying exhaustiveness, commonness, and atypicalness as independent dimensions. We discuss implications for coding and interpreting inkblot location use.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual* / physiology
  • Psychometrics / methods*
  • Reference Values
  • Rorschach Test*
  • Space Perception* / physiology