As is the case with any test, Rorschach's test is more than a bundle of materials.  It consists of ten cards presented to a subject in the context of certain instructions and procedures, as well as rules for scoring.  The subject's perceptions of the examiner's wishes and motives, as well as the goals and motives of the subject helps form the content of the testing and will also help determine what the subject says.

        For these reasons, the variability in instructions among the common systems is unfortunate. Obviously, instructions and procedures must be consistent with one's ethical and professional responsibility to respect the patient's autonomy; beyond that the administrative procedures should be minimally intrusive in order to avoid establishing expectancies beyond the most complete possible reporting of the subject's thoughts.

        For these reasons, the examination should begin by clarifying its purpose.  When the testing is based on a referral, the identity and role of the referring professional should be explicitly clear, as should the nature of the report and the party or parties to whom it will be accessible.

        When subjects are being tested for training purposes within a service setting--a school, clinic, or hospital--it is important to clarify to what extent a report will become part of the subject's record, and what access he or she will have to it.  It is also important to provide a means for such
subjects to have answered retrospective questions about themselves or about the answered.

For example, a graduate student might say,

        "Hello Ms. Smith, I'm John Jay, a graduate student in clinical psychology.  As part of my training I have to learn to give certain psychological tests, and I appreciate your volunteering your time in this way.  Because this is a training exercise, there won't be any report of the results in your school/clinic/hospital records.  Before we start, are there any questions you have?  If questions occur to you later you can call Dr. Jones at 977-7777."

        Because we believe in keeping the various sources of clinical inferences as separate as possible, we do not begin testing sessions with a clinical interview.  Such interviews can be very informative, but are best done by someone other than the tester whenever possible.


Seating Arrangement

        It is recommended that the examiner position him or herself so that the subject's handling of the card can be observed and so that the examiner may comfortably write down the subject's responses and note behaviors.  The position we generally use is one in which the examiner and subject are approximately side by side, at an angle of approximately 45 degrees.  We feel this allows the examiner to observe accurately while affording some privacy in recording.


        The purpose of the instructions is to establish a consistent set in the minds of the subjects being tested.  The basic points to be covered are that the patient will be shown ten non-representational stimuli and asked to report all associations to them.  The form we use is approximately as follows:

        "I'm going to show you ten cards, each containing a picture of an inkblot. I'll give them to you one at a time. I'll ask you to look at each card and tell me what it looks like. Spend as much time as you like on each card but be sure to tell me everything that occurs to you."

        If the subject fails to give an association and tries to return the first card in less than two minutes, the examiner is to say, "Give yourself plenty of time.  Most people see several things on each card."

        If the subject gives only one response to the first card and spends less than two minutes searching for additional responses, the examiner is to say:

        "Give yourself plenty of time. Most people see more than one thing on each card."

        This urging procedure is to be repeated, if necessary, on the second card, but not subsequently.

Response to Questions

        Requests by the subject for permission to turn the card or to respond to only a part of the blot are acceded to as simply as possible. A "yes" will usually suffice.  The principle of minimal intrusion by the tester holds true for most questions subjects pose about administrative procedure.


        The purpose of the inquiry is to obtain any necessary further information about the subject's responses for the purpose of scoring the record after associations have been obtained to all ten cards.  We choose to defer the inquiry until after the free association phase is complete because to introduce it after the first card tends to make subjects more cautious.

        It is usually best for the tester to minimize any defensiveness or anxiety the patient might feel by taking the responsibility on himself for needing additional information and by carefully avoiding the implication that the patient's performance has been inadequate or faulty.  A second principle is to obtain any necessary additional information with a minimum of biasing structure being introduced; avoid suggesting or encouraging the use of specific justifications.  At the same time, do be sure to inquire about each element of the percept.

        In general, we begin the inquiry as follows:

        "Okay. Now that we're done, I'd like to go back over the cards with you to make sure I got your responses straight. Let's see.  The first thing you saw on this card was _________________."

        The tester then looks up expectantly, providing an opportunity for the patient to talk further about the response.  This opportunity will usually elicit sufficient additional information.  If the patient does not respond at all, the tester should say, "Tell me more about that."

        If sufficient information still is not elicited at this point, the tester should say, "What about the blot brought that to mind?"

        If sufficient information still is not available, we conclude that it will be not forthcoming without the introduction of biasing structure.

        Be sure to inquire about every salient aspect of the response, indicating in your notes in parentheses what you asked about.  For example, Free Association: "A scary bat"; Inquiry: "Why a bat?"..."Why scary?"

        The tester should specifically avoid asking the patient to trace the outline of the percept (biasing toward form), and asking about the importance of specific variables (e.g., "Was the color important?").

Testing Children

        Modifications in testing procedure are used in testing children five and six years old.  Because this age group usually has not been well socialized into structured task performance and because social expectations are less clear, it is necessary to be more explicit in informing these subjects of what is desired from them during the Inquiry phase.  Therefore, if sufficient scoring information is not forthcoming following the standard inquiry procedure, the examiner should ask directly for location and should repeat instructions such "But, what about this inkblot makes it seem like a bat?  Exactly where did you see the bat?"  Very young children will often have difficulty justifying their responses by objective criteria and may have only a vague notion of where the response is located. Further pushing is, therefore, not fruitful and runs the risk of suggesting "correct answers."

Materials for Noting Rorschach Responses

        The final test protocol will consist of three parts: the response sheets, the scoring sheet(s), and the summary sheet(s).

Response Sheets

        Use plain white 8-1/2" by 11" paper turned sideways with three columns marked off one each sheet. The first column should be about 3/4" wide to record the card numbers and the latency.  Latency is the time that elapses between receiving the card and the first response to that card. Count with seconds in your head; do not use a watch. The notations need not be exact.

        The second column should be about four inches wide to record the free-association. Record only three or four responses per sheet, leaving space between them.  Number each response in succession. Be prepared with 10 or 12 sheets for each administration.  For each response, note in which position the card was held when the response was given.  Use "carats" with the point of the carat in the same position as the top of the card.  For example, would indicate the card was held in the normal position, would indicate it was held upside down, and < and > would indicate it was rotated a quarter turn.  All card turning should also be indicated. A circular arrow is usually used for this purpose, e.g., .

        The third column should also be about 4" wide to record the inquiry.  Put each response directly across from the free-association response to which it corresponds, labeling it with the same number.

        It is suggested that ink be used in recording the free-association and inquiry.  The response sheets must be written so that others can read them.  The subject's name should be written on each sheet.  It is helpful to train oneself to write legibly during the administration so that one need not use time recopying.

Scoring Sheets and Summary Sheets

    A sample of each of these forms is included on page ___.  All scoring may be done in pencil. After the scores are completed on the scoring sheets, they are tallied and are then recorded on the summary sheet. Section (K) gives instructions for using the summary sheet.


        Because of the complexity of Rorschach scoring, the precis below may be helpful:

        The scoring system is divided into the following categories:

Location: Blot Area and Frequency (p. ___).

Cognitive Complexity: Perceptual Approach and Organization (p. ___).

Justifications: Blot Attributes alluded to (p. ___).

Imaginal Aspects: Imaginary Attributes (p. ___).

Social Appropriateness: The degree to which the response is characteristically found in grossly disturbed individuals (p. ___).

Conceptual Content: Type of Percept: animal, vegetable, mineral (p. ___).

Interpersonal Expectations: Complexity and Quality of Conscious Human-related Fantasies and Less Conscious General Expectations (p. ___).

Psychosexual Drive and Defense Effectiveness: Psychoanalytically-Derived (p. ___).

Perceptual-Cognitive Characteristic: Thinking Style not scored elsewhere (p. ___).

        These nine areas form the Burstein-Loucks Scoring System. These are the areas important to the assessment of the psychological functioning of the subject. The various scores which fall under each of these headings are simply elaborations of these concepts. An overview of all categories and scores is provided on pages _____.


    The following section will present the criteria for all possible Rorschach scores, category by category and score by score within each category.  Whenever possible, criteria have been listed.  In some cases all criteria must be met for a response to receive a score; in other cases, only one or two criteria must be met.  When all criteria must be met, the word "ALL" is placed above the criteria list.

        In giving sample responses, a number of common abbreviations are used: l.l. or ll = looks like; b.f. or bf = butterfly; a.e. or ae = anything else; ? or Q = question asked; I or Inq. = inquiry.

Scoring Exceptions

    Scoring exceptions consist of those cases where the subject gives a response, but it is not scored in the usual way.  Exceptions are listed below.

1. Precision Alternatives are second responses to exactly the same area, utilizing exactly the same justification, imaginal aspects, content, psychosexual drive, and motivational valuation with no intervening responses and no card turning. These precision alternatives are designated PA under the Perception-Cognitive Characteristics column of the previous response and not scored otherwise.

2. Responses which are elicited for the first time in the inquiry are called "additional responses." They are scored in brackets and not included in computing ratios and totals on the summary sheet.

3. Occasionally in the inquiry phase, a subject will be unable to remember having given a response or where it was seen. This "lost response" is not counted as a response but is scored LR in the Perceptual-Cognitive Characteristics Category column of the previous response.

4. One exception consists of a free association process in which responses are given by the subject but then later combined into a global, larger response. In this case, the larger, global response is scored rather than the separate scorings of separate response elements.

    Scoring Examples: "a tree," "a flower," "a waterfall," "a girl," "Oh, it's a forest scene with a native girl bathing."  In this case the overall synthesized response is the one scored.