Convergence of Rorschach variables and PAI Borderline Features Scale in a Young Adult Inpatient Population

Benjamin Appel, Pace University


Individuals who are diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are heterogeneous in their symptom presentation, behavior manifestations, and underlying personality structure. Therefore, assessment methods beyond a clinical interview can only enhance our understanding and guide subsequent treatment. Two of the most widely used instruments to accurately assess personality traits (with a particular focus on the features of BPD), are the Rorschach and the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI). The present study focuses on the correlation between these two measures. Specifically, the aim of the current study is to compare and analyze the relationship between self-reported borderline features (via the Borderline Features scale on the PAI) and those detected on a performance-based measure (via the Ego Impairment Index, and other select variables on the Rorschach pertaining to affective instability, identity disturbance, negative relationships, and potential for self-harm behaviors). Data was gathered from a sample of 39 young adult (18-24 years old) psychiatric inpatients in a public general hospital. The sample was diverse with respect to ethnicity, gender, and psychiatric diagnoses. A series of correlation analyses were conducted in order to examine the relationship between scales on the PAI and Rorschach correlates. Support for the relationships between the Borderline subscales on the PAI and various Rorschach variables were limited to three significant findings. Participants with elevations on Borderline Personality Affective Instability (BOR-A) subscale also demonstrated higher total Sum Shading and Color-Shading Blends. Additionally, the correlation between the BOR-S subscale of the PAI and the S-Constellation (Suicide Potential; S-CON) was significant but in the opposite direction that was hypothesized. Therefore, individuals who reported higher levels of self-harm behaviors on the BOR-S were less likely to be at risk for suicide as per the S-CON index. The current study highlights the complexity of personality assessment, particularly when utilizing both self-report and performance-based measures. In addition, this study emphasized the differences between individuals who engage in self-harm behaviors and those who are at risk for committing suicide in the immediate future. The impulsivity and self-destructive qualities of individuals who engage in self-injury appear to be distinct from those who are acutely suicidal.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Appel, Benjamin, "Convergence of Rorschach variables and PAI Borderline Features Scale in a Young Adult Inpatient Population" (2016). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI10169160.



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