James M. Wood

James M. Wood, Ph.D.


Bad Norms Make a Test Worse Than Useless

March 2, 2021 (Tuesday)

Learning Objective

Identify and describe the critiques associated with the Rorschach Inkblot test.


I begin by recalling Scott Lilienfeld as a valued collaborator who joined Howard Garb, Teresa Nezworski and me in our critiques of the Rorschach Inkblot Test. I then discuss an insight that gradually emerged from our years of work together: A test with inaccurate norms, such as the Rorschach, can be worse than useless because it misidentifies a high proportion of normal individuals as disordered. The validity of test interpretations depends on accurate norms at least as much as it does on the size of validity coefficients.


Dr. James M. Wood is a Professor and former Graduate Director of the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas at El Paso. He was previously an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of North Texas. He has been a consulting editor for Psychological Assessment, Assessment, Child Maltreatment, and the Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, and a reviewer for multiple other journals. With his co-authors Scott Lilienfeld, Howard Garb, and Teresa Nezworski he has published numerous critiques of the Rorschach Inkblot Test, including the book What's Wrong With the Rorschach? Dr. Wood's past research focused on child suggestibility and child interviewing in forensic settings. His current research focuses on methods to conduct effective investigative interviews and interrogations in law enforcement and national security settings.