Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How to Interpret Your Rorschach Ink Blots

I occasionally poke around the news site Reddit, and came across this discussion related to the Rorschach Ink Blots. It seems only fair to post some of the interpretation summaries so that Redditors can see how they did.

I imagine that these days a lot of people will see imagery from many of the games they have played, movies they have seen, local TV shows, popular songs, etc. The standard imagery seems to be based on psychoanalysis and original conjectures of the 1920s. It would probably be dangerous to try to derive universals, when so many variations exist between subcultures, etc in each region of planet earth.

For example, a Yankee team uniform has different meaning in NYC vs in Boston. (The two cities are known for a long standing baseball sports rivalry)

Every Rorschach image has at least one obvious representation of sexual anatomy. You're not expected to mention them all. In some interpretation schemes, mentioning more than four sex images in the ten plates is diagnostic of schizophrenia. Most Rorschach workers believe the sex images should play a part in the interpretation of responses even when not mentioned.

The trouble is, subjects who took Psychology 101 often assume they should detail every possible sex response, so allowances must be made. People have since also come up with various methods and systems to try to objectively score the tests, but a lot of it is still the basis of you think it should mean this, and they think it should mean something else. It is like dream interpretation. They have been compared to fortune telling.

This information on Interpretations is compiled from data seen at

  1. www.your3dsource.com/are-you-crazy-inkblot-test.html
  2. deltabravo.net/custody/rorschach.php and
  3. www.mrcoward.com/slcusd/The Rorschach Test.htm
Pics are from Wikipedia, and are in the public domain in both Switzerland (their country of origin) and the USA.

Note that these pictures are pretty small, you can click on them to embiggen (i.e., see larger).

The Wikipedia article on the test now forwards the line that there is no specific correct answer to the test, and generally fudges any interpretation. But see the general notes below, following the set of pictures.

There are different responses seen as normal depending on culture! For example, comparing North American normal response data with data from European and South American subjects showed marked differences in some features, some of which impact important variables, while others (such as the average number of responses) coincide. For instance, "texture response" is typically zero in European subjects (if interpreted as a need for closeness, in accordance with the system, a European would seem to express it only when it reaches the level of a craving for closeness), and there are fewer "good form" responses, to the point where schizophrenia may be suspected if test data from a European subject were correlated to the North American norms

For this and other reason, I do not believe that the tests are anywhere near valid.


The Rorschach Ink Blots

The cards are numbered 1 through 10, and that is the order in which they're always given to you by the psychologist. The originals are thick, rectangular cardboard, 6 5/8 inches by 9 1/5 inches. This will make a difference on what you see, vs the smaller images on a computer screen.

Plate I


Possible Sexual Imagery: Breasts, primarily the rounded areas at the top of the image.

Good/Common Answers: "Bat, butterfly, female figure (in the centre), moth"

You may be a little paranoid if you see: "Mask, animal face, jack o lantern"

Bad Answer: "Anything insulting about the female figure (it is an indicator of your own body image)"

The first blot is easy. How fast you answer is taken as an indication of how well you cope with new situations. The best reaction is to give one of the most common responses immediately.

A bad response is any that says something untoward about the central female figure. "She" is often judged to be a projection of your own self-image. Avoid the obvious comment that the figure has two breasts but no head.

If you don't give more than one answer for Plate I, many psychologists will drop a hint -- tell you to look closer.

Plate II


Possible Sexual Imagery: Male sex organ at top center or, in some cases, a vagina (at the center near the bottom).

You should see this image as: "Two human-like forms (females or clowns) If you don't it is an indicator that you have trouble relating to people."

Other Good/Common Answers: "Butterfly, cave entrance"

It is important to see this blot as two human figures usually females or clowns.

If you don't, it's seen as a sign that you have trouble relating to people. You may give other responses as well, such as cave entrance (the triangular white space between the two figures) and butterfly (the red "vagina," bottom center).

Should you mention the penis and vagina? Not necessarily. You may not say that the lower red area looks like a vagina, but psychologists assume that what you do say will show how you feel about women. Nix on "crab"; stick with "butterfly."

Plate III


Possible Sexual Imagery: Male sex organs and female breasts, right about where you would expect to find them.

This is the blot that allegedly can determine sexual preference.

A heterosexual response would be: "Seeing two male figures"

A homosexual response would be: "Seeing two androgynous (remember "Pat" from SNL?) or female figures."

Most people see the two human figures. Both figures have prominent "breasts" and an equally prominent "penis." If you don't volunteer the gender of the figures, you'll be asked to specify it.

This blot has been the subject of much debate, so it's best to take your answer's meaning with a grain of salt. Does it work? Not really

The splotches of red ink are usually perceived separately. Common responses are "bow-tie" or "ribbon" (inner red area) and a stomach and esophagus (outer red areas).

Plate IV


Plate IV is the "father card." At first glance it is a difficult blot to see as a single image. The two lower corners are often described as shoes or boots. This card may also be seen as viewing a person from below or a male figure with an enormous sex organ.

The "boots" are fairly conspicuous; between them is the apparent head of a dog or Chinese dragon. Many subjects see the blot as an animal skin. After a few seconds, though, most can see it as a standing figure seen from below.

The boots become the feet, enlarged because of the unusual perspective. The arms and head, at the top, are smaller. Common descriptions are bear, gorilla, or man in a heavy coat. Rorschach theorists equate your description of the figure with your perception of your father or male authority figures.

Possible Sexual Imagery: A pair of male sex organs, typically seen at the top of the image. Some subjects may instead visualize a vagina in the upper center of the blot.

Good/Common Answers: "A standing figure (man, bear, gorilla)"

A Bad Answer Would Be: "To describe the figure as menacing in any way, i.e. a monster, or attacking gorilla, as this blot indentifies with your perception of your father, or authority figures."

Plate V



Possible Sexual Imagery: A pair of male sex organs at the very top of the inkblot.

Good/Common "Answers: Bat, Butterfly"

Bad Answers: "Seeing the butterfly antennae as scissors or any cutting device is an indicator of a castration complex. Schizophrenics occasionally see moving people in this image. Seeing crocodile heads on the ends of the bat's wings indicates hostility."

Rorschach himself thought this was the easiest blot to interpret. It is a bat or a butterfly, period. You don't want to mention anything else.

Many psychologists take particular note of the number of responses given to this plate. If you mention more images here than in either Plate IV or VI, it is suggestive of schizophrenia.

Plate VI


Possible Sexual Imagery: The head of the male sex organ (the portion at the top of the card) or alternately, a female sex organ (middle and bottom part of the card).

Common Answers: "animal hide, boat, submarine, mushroom cloud, men with long noses and goatees. Apparently this blot reveals subconscious attitudes about sexuality."

Occasionally described as a foreshortened view of a person with their arms outstretched.

Basically, the secret of this plate is to turn it. A good response is to say it looks like an animal hide (about the only reasonable response when held right side up), then turn it on its side and say it looks like a boat or surfaced submarine with reflection, and then turn it upside down and say it looks like a mushroom cloud, a pair of theater masks, or caricatures of men with long noses and goatees.

Plate VII




Possible Sexual Imagery: The female sex organs (seen at the bottom of the card where the figures join.

Good/Common Answers: "Two Girls, or Women"

Bad Answers: "Insulting descriptions of the two figures i.e. gossips, girls fighting, witches.

This card has a rough "V" shape sometimes described as faces pointing towards one another, "bunny ears", or similar visualizations.

This blot is supposed to reveal how you really feel about your mother. Virtually everyone sees two girls or women. Deprecating descriptions of the figures~ "witches," "gossips," "girls fighting," "spinsters" indicate poor maternal relations. Seeing the blot as thunderclouds instead of female figures suggests anxiety to some psychologists; seeing it as a walnut kernel may mean a vulvar fixation.

There is an entirely different side to this blot, but you're not supposed to see it. The white space between the girls or women can be interpreted as an oil lamp or similar object. It is claimed that only schizophrenics usually see the lamp.

Plate VIII



A very colorful card with blue, orange, pink, and gray ink. A roughly diamond-shaped image with lots of places to see things

Possible Sexual Imagery: Female sex organs, usually seen at the bottom of the card.

Good/Common Answers: "Four legged animals such as lions, pigs, bears, etc. on the sides. Other common responses are tree, butterfly, rib cage, christmas tree."

Bad/Answers: "Not seeing the four legged animals can indicate that you are mentally defective"

It is important that you see the four-legged animals- lions, pigs, bears, etc. -on the sides of the blot. They're one of the most common responses on the test, and you're assumed to be a mental defective if you don't see them. Other good responses are tree (gray triangle at top), butterfly (pink and orange area at bottom), and rib cage or anatomy chart (skeletal pattern in center between blue rectangles and gray triangles). The entire configuration can be seen as a heraldic design (good answer) or a Christmas tree with ornaments (reaching).

Children tend to like this blot and say a lot about it-the bright colors and animal shapes make it more interesting than your basic penis/vagina number (II, IV, or VI).

Plate IX


Another colorful card, this time with orange, pink, and green inks. This one is tough to visualize anything specific in; most test subjects struggle to find something to "see" in it.

Possible Sexual Imagery: Female sex organs, usually seen at the bottom of the card.

Good/Common Answers: "Fire, smoke, explosion, map, anatomy, flower."

Bad Answers: "Mushroom cloud on the centre line at top can indicate paranoia. Monsters or men fighting can indicate poor social development."

If you're going to throw up your hands (figuratively!!!) and plead a mental block, this is the place to do it. The colors clash, apparently by Rorschach's design.

If you turn the card ninety degrees, you can make out a man's head in the pink areas at bottom. (The man is identified as Mark Twain, Santa Claus, or Teddy Roosevelt.)

As with Plate V, the psychologist may be counting the number of responses you give to this blot for comparison with the preceding and succeeding blots. You want to give fewer responses to this blot.

Plate X



This is the last Rorschach card and certainly the most colorful, consisting of blue, gray, pink, green, orange and yellow inks. It's a very complex mish-mash of shapes with lots of "activity" and plenty of places to "see" things.

Possible Sexual Imagery: Male sex organs at the top center of the card.

Good/Common Answers: "Sea life, or a view through a microscope. Also common: spiders, crabs, caterpillars, rabbit's head"

Bad Answers: "Two faces at top centre blowing bubbles, or smoking pipes can indicate an oral fixation"

The unspoken purpose of this last blot is to test your organizational ability. Plate X is full of colorful odds and ends easy to identify---blue spiders, gray crabs, paired orange maple seeds, green caterpillars, a light-green rabbit's head, yellow and orange fried eggs--and you're expected to list them.

But the psychologist will also be looking for a comprehensive answer, something that shows you grok the whole Gestalt. There are two good holistic answers: sea life and a view through a microscope.

Some subjects see two reddish faces at top center, separated by the orange maple key. If you describe them as blowing bubbles or smoking pipes, it may be interpreted as evidence of an oral fixation. Seeing the gray "testes" and "penis" as two animals eating a stick or tree indicates castration anxiety.



General notes on the test from this source
Just as secret as the blots themselves are the ground rules for administering the test. There are a few things that you, as a subject, are supposed to know and a lot of things you aren't supposed to know. If you ask about something you're not supposed to know, the psychologist will give you a pat answer as prescribed in Rorschach literature. For example, if you ask if it is okay to turn the card upside down, the psychologist will respond that you may do as you like; it's up to you. The psychologist won't say that many of the cards are easier to interpret when turned; that most people do turn the cards; that he or she will make a notation with a little arrowhead every time you do turn a card; and that you lose points in the initiative department if you don't turn the cards.

You'll be handed the cards one by one in the fixed order devised by Rorschach (there are numbers on the backs of the cards for the psychologist's benefit). The first card, for instance, looks like a fox's head or a jack-o-lantern. The cards are thick, rectangular cardboard, 6 5/8 inches by 9 1/5 inches. Half of the blots are black ink on a white background. Two others are black and red ink on white, and the last three blots are multicolored. The psychologist will always put each card in your hands "right" side up.

You aren't supposed to know it, but the psychologist will write down everything you say. This includes any seemingly irrelevant questions you may have. To keep you from getting wise, the psychologist always arranges to sit to your side and a little behind you, so that you can't look at the card and the psychologist at the same time. Most subjects realize the psychologist is taking notes, of course, but they don't realize that the notes are a special shorthand record of everything said. Some psychologists use hidden tape recorders.

The psychologist will also time how long it takes you to respond, using a "tickless" watch. The psychologist will not ask you to hurry up or slow down and will not make any reference to time, but response times (in seconds) are one of the things he or she is writing in the notes.

Don't hold the card at an unusual angle. Watch how you phrase things. Say "This looks like ..." or "This could be ..." never "This is..." After all, you're supposed to realize that it is just a blot of ink on a card. By the same token, don't be too literal and say things as, "This is a blotch of black ink." Don't groan, get emotional, or make irrelevant comments. Don't put your hands on the cards to block out parts. The psychologist will watch for all of the foregoing as signs of brain damage.

If there are no right answers for the test, there are some general guidelines as to what is a normal response. You can probably see images in the inkblots proper and in the white spaces they enclose. Stick to the former. Don't be afraid of being obvious. There are several responses that almost everyone gives; mentioning these shows the psychologist you're a regular guy.

It is okay to be original if you can justify what you see in the shape, shading, or color of the blot. If you see an abalone and can point out why it looks like one, then say so. Justifiable original responses are usually judged to be indicative of creativity or intelligence.

You don't want non sequiturs, images that don't fit the blot in the judgment of the psychologist. These may be signs of psychosis.

You're expected to see more than one thing on all or most of the cards. Not being able to see anything on a card suggests neurosis. Usually the more things you can see, the better, as long as they fit the form and color of the blot. Of course, you can see things in the whole blot or in parts of it, and images may overlap.

Since time is a factor, it is important to come up with good answers fast. (It looks particularly bad if you take a long time and give a dumb, inappropriate answer.)

Additional Notes:

Many professionals now feel that the Rorschach is outdated, inaccurate, and meaningless. For example:
"Nobody agrees how to score Rorschach responses objectively. There is nothing to show what any particular response means to the person who gives it. And, there is nothing to show what it means if a number of people give the same response. The ink blots are scientifically useless." (Bartol, 1983).

"The only thing the inkblots do reveal is the secret world of the examiner who interprets them. These doctors are probably saying more about themselves than about the subjects." (Anastasi, 1982).
What these comments seem to indicate is that the Rorschach is potentially unreliable, easily misinterpreted, and essentially not a valid means of determining what it claims to detect. For more information on the use and potential unreliability of the Rorschach test read "Misuse of Psychological Tests in Forensic Settings: Some Horrible Examples" by Ralph Underwager and Hollida Wakefield.

31 comments:

the.7th.direction said...

Really interesting, thanks! I remember looking at the images the other day and wondering what my interpretations meant. It seems I got all of them in the good/common answers... so I guess that's good?

Karen Glavimans said...

Plate VIII....is interesting. I see the animals but look to me like a young man, dressed up for a date or party...that was not in the normal comments....am I strange?? For the rest, my comments were among the normal..Thank God!

myincome1 said...

Inkblots can say not only about your sexual problems but also many other psychological problems. Publicating this inkblots will decrease trust in inkblot test results, but still people see different things in them like http://inkblot-test.co.cc/
And people have right to know, how they are analyzed

Sydney Hedderich said...

http://deltabravo.net/custody/rorschach.php

anna_0371 said...

in plate II i still see 2 turkeys facing each other touching a wing and a leg,is this at all normal?

anna_0371 said...

in plate II i still see 2 turkeys facing each other,they are touching a wing and a leg,is that at all normal to see?

Sarah Cain said...

This was funny and entertaining. For IV, I saw a monster-king in a throne. Oh well. :)

Robyn said...

Plate X looks to me exactly like Paris (Eiffel tower) in spring time. The coloured blots are flowers and the yellow ones as birds. I can't believe this isn't listed! Haha does that make me crazy?

crimson said...

Am an art student and when i lock at plate VII the thing that came to mined was outagraphy or negative space like the image was trying make me see something that wasn't there. But the Rorschach test are very interesting.

fatalcrashfantasy said...

I looked at the pictures from another site and saw this.

Plate #1 - Angel/Death (androgynous)
Plate#2 - Heart, Pelvis, Period/Abortion
Plate #3 - African Women Cooking/ Fetuses around outside
Plate #4 - Goat/ Beetle/Demon
Plate #5 - Bat/Moth/Insect
Plate #6 - Church, Airplane/Spacecraft
Plate #7 - Semen, Dish, Children’s Faces
Plate #8 - Animals Climbing over Mountain/Woman
Plate #9 - Dragons (top), Vagina (bottom)
Plate #10 - Worms/Fetus with Gun

Sachi UkedoCL said...

hi thank you for this, I've been wanting to post on my blog my answers to this test but i wanted to know what they mean first.For Plate V I honestly see a rabbit grabbing two women by the neck and dragging them, got normal answers for everything else so i guess its ok.

L said...

As a psychologist myself, I worry about these images being out there, but I'm always pleased to see how wrong people are about the interpretation. The same misinformation cited repeatedly as "fact" or "research". Whew, still safe for actual use!

didisaythankyou said...

yes you are strange in traditional psychology this may indicate schizophrenia or the want for another mans penis in your shit envelope

Βασίλης Βατάλης said...

Plate II is a Delta-wing fighter plane, hitting ground targets with its double Gatlin machine-guns ( front red area), at full thrust ( red area behind plane)

Isn't it obvious????

Grace Jackson said...

Plate VII: I saw the lamp first but wouldn't say this indicates schizotypical characteristics as a lot of people have probably been exposed to the famous lamp-face illusion. Otherwise, really interesting stuff though I can't take Freudian psychology too seriously...

Possibly Rorschach ink blots would be a better tool for measuring imaginative capability or sex fixation, rather than maternal or paternal conflict. Any ideas where I could find a good psychologist blog?

Alin Miclau said...

the Xth picture seems to depict two clowns/carnival persons looking at each other, each of them shacking a blue pom-pom behind their backs while preparing to take a step further from the viewer.

Bob Sager said...

Yes - yes - you are strange.

Michael Pruitt said...

What would it mean if my answers didn't at all reflect the common answers? My answers were as follows:

Inkblot #1: satanic figure
Inkblot #2: bloody vaginal canal (not the same vaginal canal most people see)
Inkblot #3: raccoon holding a doughnut
Inkblot #4: gremlin figure standing over me with leather shoes
Inkblot #5: a mask, or a bat
Inkblot #6: a fur pelt
Inkblot #7: mystical rabbits talking to each other
Inkblot #8: the coat of arms of an evil emperor that involves two guinea pigs on its framing.
Inkblot #9: An alien figure with a coronal decoration and with a visible portion of skeleton for a nose.
Inkblot #10: kissing cock roaches guarding two tadpoles and yellow seahorses, surrounded by evil warthogs.

I know some of these sound funny, but they were my honest visual assessments.

Any thoughts?

Michael Pruitt said...

What would it mean if my answers didn't at all reflect the common answers? My answers were as follows:

Inkblot #1: satanic figure
Inkblot #2: bloody vaginal canal (not the same vaginal canal most people see)
Inkblot #3: raccoon holding a doughnut
Inkblot #4: gremlin figure standing over me with leather shoes
Inkblot #5: a mask, or a bat
Inkblot #6: a fur pelt
Inkblot #7: mystical rabbits talking to each other
Inkblot #8: the coat of arms of an evil emperor that involves two guinea pigs on its framing.
Inkblot #9: An alien figure with a coronal decoration and with a visible portion of skeleton for a nose.
Inkblot #10: kissing cock roaches guarding two tadpoles and yellow seahorses, surrounded by evil warthogs.

I know some of these sound funny, but they were my honest visual assessments.

Any thoughts?

amel raj said...

this post is posted by someone named.

by Sickmind Fraud at 7/15/2009 11:21:00 AM

sick MIND fraud

and not
Sigmund Freud
the founding father of psychoanalysis.

what answer do u expect? the results are not good enpugh

go do some other work dont waste ur time

SusiebTNT said...

I think the last one looks like a drag queen with blue pom poms and a long fake fur vest with green spandex pants. I pretty much was not even close to most of either the good or bad answers. hmm

Starchips said...

Very few of my answers were listed...Am I abnormal for not seeing sex everywhere I look?

Allaiyah said...

Plate IX: Headless winged phantom.

Plate II: Two crouching gnomes high-fiving.

Plate III: Two frogs on a lilypad watching a moth.

Plate IV: A lobster dressed as a creepy clown.

Plate V: Bat-moth.

Plave VI: Aerial view of a Flying Fish skipping through water.

Plate VII: Two Keebler Elves with enormous platform shoes.

Plate VIII: Two lizards scaling an upright fish skeleton.

Plate IX: Two crawdads standing on a manta ray standing on a crab.

Plate X: Seahorses blowing horns, lionfish with broken beer bottles, & other fish having fun near the Eiffel Tower.

Mike said...

And they called this nonsense science!? And then diagnosed people based on it!?!? This is basically Rorschach saying, "This is what I see, and if other people don't see it, they're crazy."

bjk said...

Plate 1: Two roman soldier kissing each other and their souls which in bear shape are going out of their body
Plate 2: a person looking at mirror first time and the person is thinks its a person from another dimension and the reflection is looks like a cannibal or a half zombie and blood blood everywhere lonliness
Plate 3: a war is over and 2 people is getting ready bodies for to burry or to fire them. this two people are hermaphrodite and they love each other and they wanna kill each other but if one of them is die the other one is die too
Plate 4: there is a demon he is so powerfull and its brings fear and weard peace why it is not disgusting
Plate 5: a bat flies but its dead and its wings are reverse
Plate 6: an enstrumant from a living animal its voice is abrasive
Plate 7:two bunnywomen are look and scared from ech other they are ready for running away
Plate 8: a mountain 2 mutant mouses are climbing from hell
Plate 9: organs or happiness then peace and after then fire devils burns
Plate 10: spiders and bugs in around and in the middle 2 people going peace

Flos Pulcer said...

Thank you for this, it's pretty helpful !

ProtonCannon said...

i think the point of this post is to demonstrate how bogus the rorschach test is. there isn't necessarily any validity to a supposed "good/common/normal" interpretation. the fact that someone would look to a kooky test and let its presumed authority relieve them of their worries and affirm their normalcy is rather unsettling.

Ceda Fernandez said...

This is a very informative post. However, my interpretation of the ninth plate is "two frogs riding two hippopotamuses riding two more hippopotamuses", which is very different from the interpretations mentioned in this post. Also, my interpretation of seventh plate is "two rabbis facing away from each other" and in plate 8 "two men painting a mountain on a large canvas". What does this mean?

Ceda Fernandez said...

This is a very informative post. However, my interpretation of the ninth plate is "two frogs riding two hippopotamuses riding two more hippopotamuses", which is very different from the interpretations mentioned in this post. Also, my interpretation of seventh plate is "two rabbis facing away from each other" and in plate 8 "two men painting a mountain on a large canvas". What does this mean?

brian stadler said...

I disagree with absolutely every good, normal, or bad interpetation, i see more mythical stuff, nothing ever that is listed, never....wtf....

Arthur said...

I imagine that these days a lot of people will see imagery from many of the ... skeleton-watchmen.blogspot.com