Throughout the years psychological testing has undergone a great many changes and developments. We’ve seen tests come and go, but two are still well known for their distinct impact on the history of psychological testing, as well as their long lasting implications in the psychological testing community.
The Rorschach test, a projective test which utilizes inkblots to diagnose patients, came about in the 1920’s as a form of psychoanalytic testing. Unlike other tests of the time, it called upon patients to interpret vague images. From these interpretations, the psychiatrist then draws out meaning, in the same way a psychiatrist would from a typical psychodynamic counseling session. The Rorschach test introduced what would later be called the “projective technique” (Trull, 2005). It also ushered in the Thematic Apperception Test or TAT, which used ambiguous pictures and asked patients to create stories about them (Trull, 2005).
Before the Rorschach test came into being, psychological testing had focused on personality aspects and intelligence. When this “projective technique” came about, it changed the face of psychological test, even though the Rorschach test didn’t truly catch on until the late 1930s. The Rorschach test broke the current trends in psychological testing by using ambiguous inkblots to take a look into a patient’s current life and state of mind.
Another test to make a huge impact on the psychological community was the MMPI or Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, a self-report test that worked to attach “labels to patients” (Trull, 2005). The MMPI came onto the mental health scene in 1943, and made waves due to the lack of interpretation needed during scoring. As mentioned earlier, the Rorschach test was also used in order to “label” patients. However, it required that psychologists and psychiatrists interpret the patient’s answers and then attach the appropriate label. However, the MMPI relied only on data that required no interpretation on the part of the psychiatrist or psychologist.
Despite this seeming plus to the MMPI, debate raged as to whether tests like the Rorschach or MMPI were better. Were tests relying only on data more reliable than those that required interpretation for diagnosis? Still, with this debate, both the Rorschach and MMPI made a huge impact on the psychological testing community. They opened up new means of accessing human thoughts, emotions, and new means of diagnosing and understanding patients.
Trull, T. (2005). Clinical Psychology, 7th Edition. Belmont, CA. Thomson Wadsworth.