A New Look at the Rorschach: Oculomotor Behavior, Visual Information Processing, and the Rorschach Inkblot Method

Dauphin, V. Barry, and Harold Greene

The current project represents the beginning of a research program to study the possibility of using the Rorschach to understand human information processing more completely and to use the tools and techniques of cognitive scientists to understand the Rorschach response process better. We explored information processing characteristics by monitoring participants' eye movements as they examined and responded to the Rorschach inkblots. Eye movements were recorded by an SMJ Eyelink head-mounted tracker. Rorschach inkblots were scanned and displayed on a computer screen. Participants were asked to provide responses in basic accordance with Exner's (2005) instructions. One group of participants (n=13) viewed the blots in the standard sequence. The second group of participants (n=11) viewed the blots in the reverse of the standard sequence. Both groups received two viewings of the inkblots. For each viewing of each blot, we measured participants' total number of fixations, initial saccade latency, and fixation durations. We also measured the number of fixations and fixation durations for the extreme left and right portion of the inkblots. Correlations between these measurements and blot ratings for Organizational Activity and Aesthetic qualities were calculated.

Results indicated an effect for the blots on all variables except initial saccade latency. The sequence of blot presentation primarily affects the first viewing and not the second viewing. Blots for which giving a Whole response is considered more challenging receive a higher number of fixations. The average number of fixations per blot is significantly and positively correlated with blot Aesthetic ratings (Insua, 1981). The various findings indicate that the blots are not all processed in the same manner and that various aspects of viewing the blots (i.e., the order of presentation, viewing the first time vs. second time, etc.) makes a difference on the processing of the blots.