I received the following email from my friend who’s in school to be a psychologist (the same friend who posted the Rorshach article to begin with), regarding my last post. Not only am I extremely grateful to her for shedding some light on this topic, but I am over the moon that she gave me permission to post her letter (and not just because it saves me from having to research and word this all on my own!).
I read your blog post, and felt like I should give you a better reply. Yes, the Rorshach is kept secret so that lay people are not influenced when giving their answers (in my scientific opinion, this test is horseshit, so keep that in mind). It is exactly what you said, there is a complex scoring system, so if the crazies knew how to answer so as not to seem crazy (sidenote, I am the worst psychologist ever calling them “crazies”), that would defeat the purpose. However, research shows that the Rorshach test only identifies those with schizophrenia, and really, do you need an inkblot test to tell you if someone thinks that aliens are broadcasting signals into their brain? C’mon, that kind of disorder is pretty obvious.
Another similar situation that comes to mind is with some personality tests. We’re trying to screen out people who “fake good” or answer in a socially desirable way. I think this is mostly used with the extreme social deviants, or forensic type stuff. It’s helpful to identify individuals who are trying to be seen in an extreme positive light, as this can be indicative of some kind of problem worth investigating further. Conversely, there are other scales with really bizarre items that can identify people who are trying to “fake bad”. This is useful to identify someone who may be pretending to be nuts in order to get out of a crime.
There are sometimes questions in scales that aim to identify this issue as well. If you ever fill out a questionnaire that asks you things like “Do you ever feel jealous?” or “Do you research all candidates before voting?” you have filled out a very common social desirability measure. They want you to say no to the first one and yes to the second in order to say that you’re a liar, basically.
In order to gain access to the “secret” stuff, a psychologist needs a minimum of an MA usually, and will have to undergo specific training for that assessment tool. Once the training is done, you are expected not to share that info. There’s no contract or anything, but it’s more of a professional respect thing. There is a section in our ethics code specifiying that we do not share this type of info. However, there is also a section saying that we shouldn’t sleep with clients, and who really listens to that?