Answers to the Inkblot Test Revealed on Wikipedia

Psychologists worry the test results could make the test, and its years of research, useless

By Mark Morales
|  Wednesday, Jul 29, 2009  |  Updated 2:15 PM PDT
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The famed and widely used inkblot test, administered by psychologists to determine mental health, has been posted in its entirety to Wikipedia, drawing the ire of psychologists who argue that revealing the answers threatens to unravel years of research and potential analysis, reports the New York Times.

Psychologists are not only worried that the answers to their test have been given away, they are also concerned with preserving years of research attached to the psychiatric evaluation, which was created by Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach for his 1921 book "Psychodiagnostik." Despite the inkblot plates already being on other sites, industry professionals worry that further distribution of the images will render the test useless.

"The more test materials are promulgated widely, the more possibility there is to game it," said Bruce Smith, a psychologist and president of the International Society of the Rorschach and Projective Methods.

Aside from possibly undoing tens of thousands of papers of research associated with those specific images, psychologists worry about amateurs administering the test, and misreading their results.

The test, where subjects are shown a series of 10 inkblot plates and their interpretations of those shapes are recorded and analyzed by psychologists, have been posted in an article on the site along with the most common answers.

"I just wanted to raise the bar, whether one should keep a single image on Wikipedia seemed absurd to me, so I put all 10 up," said Dr. James Heilman, an emergency room doctor from Saskatchewan, Canada, who uploaded the images, told the New York Times. "The debate has exploded from there."

Hogrefe & Huber Publishing, the German company who bought an early publisher of the book, is considering legal action against Wikipedia. They will certainly have a difficult time, since the copyright has ran out since its original publication 90 years ago.

"It is therefore unbelievably reckless and even cynical of Wikipedia  to on one hand point out the concerns and dangers voiced by recognized scientists and important professional associations and on the other hand, in the same article, publish the test materials with supposedly 'expected responses,'" said Trudi Finger, a spokeswoman for the company, in an e-mailed response to the New York Times.

Dr. Heilman compares the pressure to remove the test to the oppressive Chinese government's attempt to control information during the Tienanmen massacre.  

"Restricting information is not what we're here to do," said Heilman, who is not swayed by the industry professionals who predict doom with the tests appearance on Wikipedia.

"Show me the evidence," he said. "I don't care what a bunch of experts say."

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