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Release date:
Nov. 30, 2001
Contact: Deb Hammacher, Associate Director, 404-727-0644, or

Professor spots problems in Rorschach tests

Emory's Scott Lilienfeld, associate professor of psychology, studies criminal and antisocial behavior rooted in mental illness, but he also is known for debunking the scientific validity of such controversial topics as ESP, recovered memory and faith healing. He recently turned his skeptical eye to three projective psychological tests: the Thematic Apperception Test, the Draw-a-Person Test and the Rorschach inkblot test, a measure whose diagnostic effectiveness has been questioned by researchers since the 1950s.

Lilienfeld, with collaborators James Wood of the University of Texas at El Paso and Howard Garb of the Pittsburgh Veterans Administration Health Care System and University of Pittsburgh, found problems with the tests' reliability and validity--igniting debate among Rorschach supporters and detractors.

According to Lilienfeld, a measure is reliable when different people who tabulate the responses arrive at similar conclusions, but all three psychological measures showed problematic or poor reliability. To be considered valid, a measure must either correspond well with other measures or predict future behavior. None of the three measures showed consistent validity, according to the researchers.

To read journal articles about the studies:



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