The subject of Psychobook is psychological tests, both classic tests and newly created ones. Oversized, with more pictures than text, it is truly an art book.    

Psychobook begins with an introduction by Lionel Shriver, a journalist and novelist, which proves to be a very personal indictment of psychological testing.  There follows a more even-handed historical essay by Oisin Wall, a curator at the Science Museum in London.    

The bulk of Psychobook is comprised of photographs of tests and archival material related to tests.  For example, along with intelligence tests designed to screen potential immigrants, we find images of new arrivals being tested at Ellis Island.  Likewise, we see beautifully reproduced Rorshach inkblots along with pictures of Rorshach and older inkblots that may have inspired him.
 The Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) is a projective test in which subjects respond to images with their fantasies.  Here we see the 1930s originals cut out of magazines alongside updated images especially commissioned for this volume. Each is provocative in its own way.  As an added bonus, a series of photographs of psychotherapists in their offices from the 1930s to the present is interspersed with the content on psychological testing.     


The back cover of Psychobook tells us it is intended to “inform, entertain, and amaze you.” In fact, the book’s whimsical, flippant tone will amuse some readers, but others may find it offensive. An editor’s note might have clarified the book’s intentions, but none is included.   

A section of the book entitled “Writers Imagine Questionnaires” is taken up by invented tests and questionnaires by ten, mostly British, authors.  The reader would have benefitted from biographical information about them and the book’s other contributors. 

In short, this is a unique, quirky, sometimes illuminating, sometimes frustrating book that the reader may either want to place on a coffee table or toss on the rubbish pile. It is too lacking in substance and documentation to be thought of as a reference book on psychological testing. However, the abundant photographs are very appealing, and Psychobook undoubtedly fulfills its mission of being entertaining.

Miscellaneous, listed as a companion site, purports to be “bursting with thought provoking questionnaires and tests.”  Should you be “bored of the usual drunken gatherings” you can learn “how to host your very own psychobook party.”  If you respond to the humor of Psychobook, you will love the website.  There is also a link for ordering your very own sets of psychological tests and Rorshach inkblots from Redstone Press, Psychobook’s UK publisher.   


Princeton Architectural Press

Place Published

New York



Page Count


Secondary Source