Legal Admissibility of the Rorschach and R-PAS: A Review of Research, Practice, and Case Law

J Pers Assess. 2022 Mar-Apr;104(2):137-161. doi: 10.1080/00223891.2022.2028795. Epub 2022 Feb 18.


The special issue editors selected us to form an "adversarial collaboration" because our publications and teaching encompass both supportive and critical attitudes toward the Rorschach and its recently developed system for use, the Rorschach Performance Assessment System (R-PAS). We reviewed the research literature and case law to determine if the Rorschach and specifically R-PAS meet legal standards for admissibility in court. We included evidence on norms, reliability, validity, utility, general acceptance, forensic evaluator use, and response style assessment, as well as United States and selected European case law addressing challenges to mental examination motions, admissibility, and weight. Compared to other psychological tests, the Rorschach is not challenged at unusually high rates. Although the recently introduced R-PAS is not widely referenced in case law, evidence suggests that information from it is likely to be ruled admissible when used by a competent evaluator and selected variables yield scores that are sufficiently reliable and valid to evaluate psychological processes that inform functional psycholegal capacities. We identify effective and ethical but also inappropriate uses (e.g., psychological profiling) of R-PAS in criminal, civil, juvenile, and family court. We recommend specific research to clarify important aspects of R-PAS and advance its utility in forensic mental health assessment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Criminals*
  • Humans
  • Psychological Tests
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • United States