Take This Iconic Psychological Test
All Inkblots by Ms Ella Rothenstein. Courtesy of Redstone Press
As a new book explores the history of personality testing, we look at what Mr Rorschach’s inkblots might be able to teach us.
It seems like an hour cannot go by without someone posting the results of an absurd IQ or personality test on Facebook or Twitter. Answer mostly cs? You’re a psychopath. As? You’re Jesus Christ. So far so frivolous (and fun). But where did the concept of a psychological test come from? A new book, published tomorrow by Redstone Press, has all the answers. Literally. With an introduction by Ms Lionel Shriver – the author of We Need To Talk About Kevin – Psychobook, edited by Mr Julian Rothenstein, provides a comprehensive history of the psychological test, offering the opportunity to take and learn from the most famous assessments ever conceived.
Since we’re just as narcissistic as those social media posters, we couldn’t resist reading the Rorschach Inkblot Test. You will probably recognise the iconic imagery, below. It was founded by the Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Mr Hermann Rorschach, who realised that people’s perceptions of certain inkblots could be used to reveal different facets of their personality. He wrote a book about it called Psychodiagnostik in 1921. Today, the Rorschach test is the second most widely used test by members of the Society for Personality Assessment.
Scroll down to take the test – adapted for Psychobook by Mr Will Hobson and Ms Ella Rothenstein. Simply look at each image and say what immediately comes to mind (or maybe just write it down, depending on where you are), then read below for an analysis of your interpretation. Obviously, like the results we post on social media, an exercise like this is probably more about fun and self-validation than it is about revealing something profound. But you never know…
The inkblot test
If you see…
(Whole image) A strong man, flexing his muscles
You are highly capable, to put it mildly. Running marathons, reconditioning bicycles, cultivating new strains of plants, raising money for social causes – you master everything you turn your hand to. Like a competitive athlete, you are naturally gifted and extremely determined. Having the bar raised is a familiar experience, and you pride yourself on always being equal to the challenge.
(Top of image) A pair of rams at the top, butting with heads lowered
You’re self-disciplined, reliable, good at seizing the initiative, and, in general, a whirlwind of activity. You always come across as very certain about what you’re doing, which inspires confidence in clients and work colleagues, despite your suffering from raw nerves. When you’re feeling threatened or under pressure, you can feel very stressed, but only those close to you tend to notice.
(Whole image) A scorpion
You are highly tuned, like a gymnast or ballerina. Things like diet and sleep can be issues, since you are physically very sensitive. Sometimes you wonder whether there’s a connection between this and how you feel about yourself, your self-worth, but anything that smacks of therapy tends to get on your nerves.
(Whole image) A lobster, shrimp, langoustine
A romantic at heart, you nevertheless have quite a lot of defences in place. You work so hard and life can be such a struggle that you sometimes wonder if you can sacrifice your peace of mind for the unpredictability of a relationship. Someone can innocently, unthinkingly, mess up the order you’ve created, and you can become completely discouraged. The whole notion of kindred spirits suddenly seems a joke.
(Whole image) Fallopian tubes
You have a sense of stalled potential, of putting an enormous amount into life and yet still waiting for it to start. Your idea of how things should be – who you should be with, what you should be doing, etc – is very vivid, and if reality falls short of expectations, your considerable achievements provide little consolation. A philosophical approach such as Mr Arthur Rimbaud’s “Ô saisons, ô châteaux, quelle âme est sans défauts?” (“Oh seasons, oh castles, what soul is without blemish?”), strikes you as trite at best.
If you see…
(Centre of image) Two figures leaning forward – monkeys, courtiers or spiritual devotees of some sort bowed in prayer (Whole image, including white space) Person praying.
A cerebral soul, you have a great capacity for imaginative, rigorous thought. You know all too well the concentration and patience required to do anything good, and can’t see why anyone would settle for anything less if they care about what they’re doing. You want to feel like the New Orleans piano player Mr Allen Toussaint, who said of his mentor Professor Longhair “A rule breaker is a rule maker. He blew my socks off, and I haven’t worn any since.”
(Whole image) Racing car, speed, voluptuousness (Centre of image) Two furry little cubs, babies, devils
Your highly developed imagination is one of the first things people notice about you. ‘Metaphorical’ is your instinctive mode. You excel at constructing other worlds, seeing things from other people’s points of view, imagining yourself soaring to great heights or plummeting to your doom.
(Whole image) Dentist’s/barber’s chair
You are sensitive and generous, a combination that ensures you get a lot out of life and take it painfully to heart in equal measure. Given the transparency of your feelings, people often want to look after you, which can occasionally confuse your understanding of intimacy. Very formal, conventional environments drain you. You would not thrive in the New England setting the artist Mr Cy Twombly grew up in: “Once I said to my mother, ‘You would be happy if I just kept well-dressed and [had] good manners,’ and she said ‘What else is there?’”
(Upside down) A woman lying back with her legs open
You can get very distracted. Within moments you can go from being completely in the present to looking down on it from a huge height, analyzing it to within an inch of its life. Balance is crucial for you, being able to stay in touch with your physical, sensual side. Life is about sensations as well as thoughts; it is about the texture of concrete particulars, the smell of the Paris Metro or what it feels like to hold a mouse in your hand, as Ms Iris Murdoch once put it.
(Whole image) Two dark forces or figures, perhaps female, about to invade and consume a prone figure/torso
You may progress as you digress, to paraphrase Tristram Shandy, or you may just digress. How many unfinished letters or emails, unmade phone calls trail in your wake? As Mr Philip Roth said, “The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.”
If you see…
(Whole image) Pansies, with attendant connotations of spring; bird of paradise
The wind is in your sails, a state of affairs that tends to emphasise your charming, energising qualities. You believe in discussion, want to learn from others, are attentive, modest and thoughtful, and like people as a rule. This broad philanthropy may reflect itself either in a strain of non-conformism – the sense that individuals should be free to do whatever they want – or in something more political.
(Whole image) Pressed flowers of various sorts, including orchids, irises and cyclamen
You are very aware of what it’s like to have been the object of a lot of attention as a child. The jury is out as to whether this is a good thing; sometimes you think you may have overly high expectations of yourself. You are not seriously worried about being your own worst enemy, but you can understand what Mr Edgar Degas meant when he said, “There is a kind of success that is indistinguishable from panic.”
(Whole image) Moth, butterfly with sting in tail
Your affable, sociable exterior may not prepare people for how independent you are, the doggedness with which you revolve in your own, unique orbit. Naturally you’re drawn to the limelight – in many ways, it’s where your talents mean you belong – but you’re dubious about the costs, and, even more than that, you can’t stand anyone telling you what to do. You are profoundly unbiddable; at the first hint of coercion, you disappear.
(Whole image) Eyes in darkness, with blinkers on
You have a great capacity for introspection. You go somewhere inside yourself far out of others’ reach, and think things over exhaustively. This is not always easy for other people. As Mr Spencer Tracy says to Ms Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday after she divorces him, “I wish you hadn’t done that, Hildy. . . Divorce me. Makes a fellow lose all faith in himself. . . Almost gives him a feeling he wasn’t wanted.”