Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counseling Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Frederick A. Kosinski, Jr.

Second Advisor

Wilfred G. A. Futcher

Third Advisor

Herbert W. Helm


Problem. Criminal defendants may be strongly motivated to avoid prosecution by appearing mentally ill, and the malingering of psychotic symptoms is of special concern in legal proceedings. Much research has been conducted to determine accurate methods to detect malingering. These include clinical interviews, structured personality tests, intelligence tests, and projective techniques. This present study investigated the ability of specific variables on the Rorschach Projective Technique to detect malingered protocols.

Method. The 83 subjects in this study were restricted to male pre-trial defendants in the Federal Judicial system who were placed into three categories by diagnosis: (1) malingering psychotic symptoms, (2) psychotic disorders, and (3) all other diagnoses. The following Rorschach variables were investigated in this study: (1) the total number of responses, (2) the number of Popular responses, (3) the lambda ratio, which examines the frequency of pure form responses to all responses, (4) conventional form, (5) the Schizophrenia Index, (6) the weighted sum of six special scores, (7) the deviant verbalizations added to the deviant responses, and (8) confabulated responses added to inappropriate logic responses.

Results. The results of the study indicated that only the number of Popular responses statistically differentiated the malingerer group from the other two groups. Subjects from the malingerer group provided from 0 to 9 popular responses with a mean of 4.487. This was significantly lower than the means obtained by the psychotic group (mean = 5.8), the control group (mean = 5.9), and the mean of 6.9 which Exner (1989) reported for non-patient males. When the variability in the number of responses was controlled for, nothing was found to be significant. Using discriminant analysis, 73.9% of the malingerers were accurately classified.

Conclusions. Detecting malingered psychotic symptoms with the Rorschach is difficult. Suggestions for further research include identifying each subject's knowledge of psychiatric disorders and behaviors exhibited by those with mental disorders, and investigating other Rorschach variables.

Subject Area

Malingering, Factitious disorders, Forensic psychiatry