An investigation of older adults' less frequent human movement and color responses on the Rorschach

Duane Henry Erstad, Marquette University

Abstract

Since the 1940s, less frequent human movement and color responses on the Rorschachs of older adults have been acknowledged although their meaning has remained unclear. Within the last decade, however, concern about an older adult stereotype has created doubt about these findings. In addition, the normative sample of the Rorschach system commonly used has only 3% of participants over 65. A more recent question is whether responses fewer than 14--a frequent finding among older adults--is the cause of both unreliability and less frequent human movement and color responses. Participants in this study were nonpatients, 12 under age 60, and 33 age 60 and over. Participants were retested and encouraged to give more responses when fewer than 14 were given spontaneously. Cognitive processing style or EB, a central Rorschach variable consisting of the ratio of human movement to color responses, is described as the most reliable means to investigate the two less frequent variables empirically. Two behavioral tasks were given to validate EB and provide empirical data on human movement and color responses. Results showed no improvement in reliability due to encouragement to give more than 13 responses. Contrary to claims, this study showed little evidence of retest reliability in younger or older adult participants. There was also no behavioral evidence of cognitive processing style. The predicted evidence of less frequent human movement and color responses was observed in older adults. Although this study was not intended to be a sufficient test of reliability, it indicates that retest reliability studies by researchers other than test developers are needed to substantiate Rorschach empirical reliability. The presence of less frequent human movement and color responses on Rorschachs of these high-functioning older adults shows less need for concern about this finding than recent literature suggests. Due to the unexpected negative findings with cognitive processing style and retest reliability, this study was not able to provide information about the meaning of less frequent human movement and color responses among older adults. The wide variability among older adults in this study clearly shows the lack of an older adult stereotype on the Rorschach test.

Recommended Citation

Erstad, Duane Henry, "An investigation of older adults' less frequent human movement and color responses on the Rorschach" (1996). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9634263.
http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI9634263

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