60-Second Mind

Answers to the Rorschach Test Revealed

A recent debate erupted on Wikipedia concerning the public posting of popular interpretations of the Rorschach test. Christie Nicholson reports

[Below is the original script. But a few changes may have been made during the recording of this audio podcast.]

The current digital motto “information wants to be free” is creating many unanticipated consequences. Here’s a recent one concerning psychology.

Last month a Canadian physician posted to Wikipedia all 10 inkblots of the Rorschach test. After all, the images were made publicly available more than 30 years ago.

The test, perhaps surprisingly given its controversial history, is still used to decipher various psychoses. A person’s interpretation of the inkblot can lead to a conclusion of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or borderline personality.

But along with the inkblots came captions posted by an Italian Wikipedia editor listing the most popular answers to what people see in the cryptic symmetrical images (for example, moths, various sea creatures, beastly skin.)

And we all know that having the answers before a test renders it futile. A debate has erupted with Wiki editors removing, and then quickly replacing, the images.

So Wikimedia administrators are currently restricting edits to the page until disputes are settled. For now though, the frozen page reveals all inkblots and answers.

Of course this leads one to think, what about other psychological tests, like the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory or the Beck Depression Inventory—what happens when their popular answers are revealed?

The doctor who posted the inkblots supported his argument with a nod to the optometric Snellen eye chart (it starts with that big letter E) which is posted on Wikipedia. People could study it to pass their driving exam. But it has not been taken down. Yet.

—Christie Nicholson

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