[Anatomical contents in the Rorschach test: Comparison between a population of nurses and a control group.]
Centre d'expertise en psychotraumatismes et psychologie légale, faculté de psychologie, université de Liège, 3, boulevard du Rectorat, bâtiment B33, 4000 Liège, Belgique. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The study of answer contents to a Rorschach test leads to numerous debates and controversies. From a pragmatic point of view, the recurrent question is to understand the meaning of a content (or its repetition) in a protocol. From a discursive and perceptive point of view, it is hazardous to give an interpretation other than descriptive and contextual. Indeed, no single interpretative theory or analysis method is able to determine with certainty and rigor a strict correlation between people's psychological functioning and the contents they perceive.
In this empirical context, we studied the "anatomy" answers (frequencies and formal qualities) in a population of nurses (n=38) matched with a control group (non-medical subjects, n=38). The Rorschach test was administrated according to the recommendations of the Integrated System.
The average of An+Xy answers was clearly and significantly higher in the nurse population (3.58) than in the control group (0.89) and than in the three comparative norms that we selected (from 0.96 to 1.83). Concerning the formal quality, the repeated-measures analysis of variance showed a significant interaction effect: although subjects in the control group gave a similar number of ordinary, unusual and minus forms for An+Xy answers, the nurses gave more erroneous (minus) forms (1.79) than unusual forms (1.21) and finally than ordinary forms (0.58).
Two hypotheses may be suggested in order to explain our findings. On one hand, it is highly probable that our results are linked to the everyday body confrontation in a nurse's job. On the other hand, we suggest that by giving An+Xy answers, nurses tend to reveal some idiosyncratic characteristics in order to show their own identity. Indeed, our nurse subjects were selected because of their job, and so they complied with the social identity that was implicitly expected. This is congruent with the complex functioning in social reality: in a social group, people will not verbalize all of their perceptions; they will preferentially verbalize perceptions that define their social identity. Conversely, if some perceptions do not comply with the subject's identity, these perceptions will be less frequently verbalized, despite the fact that they were perceived. Concerning the second main finding, the inadequate formal quality of answers given by nurses emphasizes a visual misrepresentation conditioning due to one's job. This effect is interesting from a psychological point of view because it suggests that this tendency to perceive more anatomical contents arises to the detriment of the "reality". Finally, our findings allowed us to suggest the hypothesis of the role of identity in answer contents to a Rorschach test according to the context, and to formulate some recommendations about the content use in the Rorschach interpretation.
Copyright © 2012. Published by Elsevier Masson SAS.
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