Tag Archives: Evelyn Hooker

Video: Hegarty on the Rorschach & Sexuality


In this video from the University of Surrey, social psychologist and historian of psychology Peter Hegarty discusses his work on visuality in psychological science. The first research project Hegarty discusses is his historical research on the categorization of homosexuality as a mental illness, including the inclusion of homosexuality in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association from 1952 to 1973. Hegarty’s interest is in how the rise and fall of the Rorschach test as a psychological instrument related to efforts to detect and diagnose homosexuality as a mental illness during this period. He briefly charts the growing psychoanalytic influence post-WWII on the use of the Rorschach test, in conjunction with the rise of clinical psychology, as well as increasing skepticism about Rorschach test from experimental psychologists in ensuing years. Here, Hegarty recounts the story of Evelyn Hooker’s doubleblind study on the use of the Rorschach to diagnose homosexuality (previously discussed on AHP here), as part of changing standards of evidence within the discipline.

The second research project Hegarty discusses is not specifically historical, but also deals with the nature of evidence in psychology: the psychology of how people draw graphs. In this research, Hegarty investigated the composition and interpretation of graphs depicting gender differences. His review of 40 years worth of graphs of gender differences found that 75% of the time data about males was presented first and data on females presented second. This finding led Hegarty to undertake further research into how gender stereotypes might be effecting the scientific record. The full story of his findings on this subject can watched in the second half of the above video.

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Hooker & Refuting Homosexuality as Perversion

The February 2011 issue of the APA Monitor on Psychology is now online. The Time Capsule section of this issue features an article by Katharine Milar on psychologist Evelyn Hooker’s work refuting homosexuality as a mental illness. “The Myth Buster” details Hooker’s study of gay men, the results of which were presented at the APA’s 1956 Annual Convention in Chicago and published the following year as “The Adjustment of the Male Overt Homosexual”. The study would, as Milar asserts, help lead to the “removal of homosexuality as a form of psychopathology from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual III of the American Psychiatric Association” in 1973. For the study Hooker

recruited 30 exclusively homosexual and 30 exclusively heterosexual men, matched for age, IQ scores and education….Each participant took three projective tests: The Rorschach, the Make a Picture Story Test (MAPS) and the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT). After scoring the tests herself, she then gave the test protocols with all identifying information removed to experts in those tests: Bruno Klopfer for the Rorschach, Edward Shneidman, the inventor of MAPS, and Mortimer Meyer for the TAT. An adjustment rating was assigned to each participant based on the test scores, and then the experts were given paired Rorschach protocols, one from a gay participant, one from a straight participant and asked to identify the homosexual. As with heterosexuals, homosexuals’ adjustment varied from superior to disturbed. Two-thirds of the research participants in each group were judged as having average or better adjustment. Further, experts were unable to identify the gay participant’s protocol from the matched pairs at better than chance accuracy. There was no association between homosexuality and psychological maladjustment. One of her experts, who was sure he could distinguish the groups, asked for another chance to review the protocols, but was no more successful the second time than the first.

The full article can be read online here.

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