Scientists have raising doubts over the efficacy of the well known psychological tools.
The tests like Rorschach Inkblot Test, scientists have said that the test may not be the best diagnostic tool and practitioners need to be cautious in how they use this technique and interpret their results.
In the Inkblot Test, a viewer looks at ten inkblots, one at a time, and describes what they see.
The rationale behind this test is the idea that certain aspects of the subject's personality will be exposed as they are interpreting the images, allowing for the possible diagnosis of various psychological disorders.
But a report published in 2000, detailed an exhaustive review of all data on the Rorschach (and other similar "projective" tests).
The authors of the study have said that despite its popularity, the Rorschach may not be the best tool for psychological analysis.
Developed in the 1920s, The Rorschach Inkblot Test was already mired in controversy within 30 years, but it was later revived with the publication of John Exner's Comprehensive System (CS), which detailed standards and norms for analyzing results.
The CS was credited with providing a concrete, scientific basis for the Rorschach tested and it became widely used in clinical and forensic settings.
Proponents of the CS claimed that it also provided a wealth of information for non-patient adults and children.
But, critics of this system argue that the norms established by CS are out of date and based on small sample sizes.
In addition, the CS norms are not representative of the population and actually classify a portion of normal subjects as having pathological tendencies.
Many studies have also called into question the scoring reliability of the CS, i.e., a number of experiments have shown that two practitioners will score one subject very differently using the CS method.
"Disagreements can have particularly serious implications if the test results are used to reach important clinical or legal recommendations," said the authors.
Furthermore, some studies have suggested that there may be a cultural bias associated with the CS.
Research has shown that Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans score differently on a number of variables in the CS compared to White Americans.
"Similar discrepancies have been reported for CS scores in Central and South American countries as well as in several European countries," noted the authors.
The above findings suggested that any CS data acquired from various racial and cultural groups should be interpreted with extreme caution.
Meanwhile, not everything is negative about the InkBlot Test, as there is evidence that this tool may be useful in identifying patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder.
But, the Rorschach has not been shown to be related to Major Depressive Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorders, or Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
Overall, the authors suggest that due to the inconsistent literature on the Rorschach Inkblot Test and other related psychological tools, practitioners should be very selective when they use these assessments and use them in ways, which have strong empirical support.
The details of the study have been published in the Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.