Under Skinner's Skin: Gauging a Behaviorist From His Rorschach Protocol


Behaviorism and psychodynamic psychology have been regarded as polar opposites. Contrary to popular belief, B. F. Skinner took an interest in Freud and many of his concepts, and agreed to be tested with the Rorschach method and the Thematic Apperception Test by Roe in her study of scientists (Roe, 1953).We looked for signs of creativity defined as complex responses, an intriguing emotional tone, novelty, and liveliness. Skinner displayed an enormous number of responses characterized by simplicity, an intellectualized tone, a driven quality rather than creative complexity, and a sense of strained social relationships and lack of liveliness. The findings are in line with Roe’s study of other scientists. Skinner’s intellectual productivity and high ambition fits well with the commanding figure history describes.

Journal of Personality Assessment, 2013, 95 (1), 1–12

Published Jan. 14, 2013 4:22 PM - Last modified Aug. 24, 2015 1:54 PM