ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
One of the most famous psychological tests is the Rorschach or inkblot test.  It's very controversial, with some people arguing it's pseudoscience and others saying it gives valuable insights.  Actually, they're both right.  It has no objective basis in that different people will score the same response in different ways, and that's before  accounting for cultural differences. However, any kind of symbolic material can serve as inspiration for useful conversations.  The problem comes when someone makes binding decisions based on these test results -- that  is the pseudoscience.  It penalizes people for not doing what someone else wanted.

I've been watching this for a long time, and finally found where someone scanned the images online.  Previously you could only find vague replicas.  This page has the full-color cards along with instructions on what the tester wants to hear.  Some of its observations (sexual imagery will get you in trouble, positive interpretations score better than negative ones) apply across many psychological tests.  By memorizing these, you now have two options: tell a tester you're already familiar with the test, which invalidates this and most other psych tests; or cheat on it by telling them what the handbook says everyone should see (or whatever other image you may wish to project).  That's very useful if, as is often the case, the test is being used against you and against your will.  (It's commonly used in contentious legal cases such as divorce or abuse, and sometimes in employment.)  In particular, note that this article highlights the type of lying ubiquitous throughout psych tests: falsely telling someone they can "do anything" or "it doesn't matter" when in fact everything is being scored and difference from the center of the bell curve is heavily penalized.  You really can't rely on anything they say unless you have read the instructions and scoring rubric (if there even is one) for yourself.

However, if you have a psychotherapist you like -- and you really need someone with a high level of experience for this, most counselors won't be able to follow it -- then you can get into awesomely deep territory by discussing symbolism back and forth.  Rorschach cards are great for this kind of exercise.  But so are most types of abstract art, and any kind of symbolic art such as Tarot cards.  If you study the symbolism of colors, shapes, etc. across cultures then it becomes even more illuminating.  Dream dictionaries are great for this because they give you a ton of ideas what things could  mean. You just have to account for the fact that symbolism always includes both a universal and an individual aspect.  Butterflies always have an element of transformation due to their metamorphic biology, but to an individual they might be very sad due to seeing butterflies at a grandparent's funeral.  Plus when you look at the different possible meanings, you can gain insights into how other people think, or spot parallels among several related symbols.  One Tarot card may have 12 possible meanings, but if three other cards all have one overlapping interpretation, that's the one active in this reading. Some branches of psychotherapy are really into this symbolic stuff, and it's ideal for handling some types of problem that don't lend themselves well to logic.  Or just for fun.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-03 01:07 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
One of those pictures looked like a textbook-style representation of the female reproductive system. Another one looked like an X-ray image of the pelvis and kidneys, and the first one looks like an animal skull. There was also one that looked like an animal hide, laid out with the head at the top and the legs & tail at the bottom.

I suspect that all of those would be scored as "negative", the first one for being "sexual" and the rest because they're "morbid".

There was only one where I really had to think a bit to come up with any interpretation that wasn't sexual, because "vulva" was so glaringly obvious. I ended up with "two caterpillars feeding off the same twig".

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-03 03:45 am (UTC)
conuly: (Default)
From: [personal profile] conuly
If, like the man in the article, you are willing to say for a job interview that all you see are violent and sexual scenes, some of which involve children, then you deserve not to get the job.

Not because the Rorschach test is so reliable, but because you clearly have something wrong with your appropriateness filters.

Re: Well...

Date: 2017-04-07 01:17 pm (UTC)
artsyhonker: a girl with glasses and purple shoulder-length hair (Default)
From: [personal profile] artsyhonker
It also bothers me that a majority of these tests lie to people. They claim that answers are supposed to be completely free and not penalized, then penalize people. The tests aren't really about what shape a person is in, but about how similar they are to other people -- or how gullible they are when told that all answers are "safe."

I have experience of processes ("this is not a test, of course, we are exploring together") like this, and they can be deeply damaging.

(Thank you for the entire post.)

Re: Well...

Date: 2017-04-08 04:31 pm (UTC)
artsyhonker: a girl with glasses and purple shoulder-length hair (Default)
From: [personal profile] artsyhonker

Indeed.

My unpleasant experiences with this were not within a therapeutic framework; they were still harmful.

"Person-centred" is a useful keyword over here, when looking for a supportive therapist.

statements and biases

Date: 2017-04-03 11:38 pm (UTC)
callibr8: icon courtesy of Wyld_Dandelyon (Default)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
>> You really can't rely on anything they say unless you have read the instructions and scoring rubric (if there even is one) for yourself. <<

Based on my experience working as an essay scorer, the existence of a written scoring rubric IS NOT a guarantee either. Nearly every project I have worked on has had at least one "exception case" where the score *I* would assign based on rubric alone is higher than what they have assigned, due to various biases. Yeah, the biases do vary per project - but the vast majority of projects have at least one, and often several.

Not going to be more specific on an open channel, but did want to bring this up ASAP.

Re: statements and biases

Date: 2017-04-09 05:12 am (UTC)
callibr8: icon courtesy of Wyld_Dandelyon (Default)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
Brilliant example!

I wish that there existed easily accessible, widespread education in learning how to spot biases - including one's own! - and how to overcome them. I think that misuse of testing (such as examples elsethread of using certain tests in completely inappropriate contexts), compounded by tests that don't really measure what they claim they are measuring in the first place, is one of the scourges of L-American society. >_

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-04 05:47 am (UTC)
fred_mouse: cross stitched image reading "do not feed the data scientists" (Default)
From: [personal profile] fred_mouse
Interesting! I saw people in almost all of them (there was one flower, and one pair of animals that I remember). Sometimes solo, sometimes facing towards each other, never facing away. Dancing, intimate conversations, gentle touching. One which was either an angel, or someone standing quietly as something was draped over them.

And the 'not taking enough time' is worrying. As a general rule, I had already interpreted the image before I could say "Here I see..." So, penalising people with a particular speed of response/particular visual interaction with the world.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-04-04 06:06 am (UTC)
fred_mouse: cross stitched image reading "do not feed the data scientists" (Default)
From: [personal profile] fred_mouse
>>This test viciously penalizes everything that is different from the majority

Which is a worry, because many of our gifted (our artists, our bright children, etc) are going to be there. Of course they are different! Apart from anything else, this is something that our communities should be encouraging, and benefitting from, not discouraging. I found myself second guessing how many things was a sensible number to see - should I stop at 3? should I not tell the story of the dance that I'm seeing, the central wheel, etc.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-05 05:59 am (UTC)
society_of_antisocialites: (pic#8993009)
From: [personal profile] society_of_antisocialites
That reminds me of a test somebody had to take years ago to even talk about diagnoses with a shrink. I think it was supposed to be some kind of screening protocal - a series of multiple choice questions you had to answer online - that was meant to determine possible diagnoses and skew the direction of therapy. Neither of which they were there for.

It wasn't accomplishing what they were there for (which was a referral to someone who could prescribe hormones which, surprise, are actually a mood stabilizer rather than gender related - not long-term therapy at all), and some of the questions were downright wrong. The one for rooting out trans or gender nonconforming people was binarist and infantilizing (phrased something like "if you are a girl, have you ever wanted to be a boy" and vice-versa). They were supposed to say "yes", which is bull for someone who is agender and has never thought themself as anything else.

The person who took it bullshitted all of it to get the diagnosis they wanted sans anything else (except a depression diagnosis because responding negatively on those would have tipped that someone was lying). Being familiar with social conventions and knowing the seed questions helped - the ones that everybody* says yes to like "Do you ever get so angry you want to hurt something?", which will get you flagged for lying if you give the apparently-pleasing answer ("no") to. Instinctive distrust of psychologists may have helped in that instance too.

That person was off well, but I feel bad for anyone who either isn't familiar with the setting or has trouble gauging social conventions/appropriateness of responses. It really does only favor the people who are either already healthy, have a therapist they *trust* and won't get otherwise screwed over for not being pleasing, or can fake it if they don't want to participate.

* Still presumed by the test-makers/graders. I know one or two people who don't get angry in *that* way, and I'm sure there are more for that and who deviate from what the other seed questions are presuming "normal".

- Marx

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