Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

The Voigt-Kampff Test Symbol Analysis

The Voigt-Kampff Test Symbol Icon

One of Dick’s most famous ideas in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is the Voigt-Kampff test, designed to root out closeted androids by testing their innate sense of empathy. The test presupposes that all human beings have an innate sense of empathy, and androids don’t. Again and again, Dick shows this assumption to be incorrect. In a way, the Voigt-Kampf test is another symbol of a futuristic society’s struggle to control and classify human nature—a struggle made easier by mechanization and technology. Like the empathy box or the mood organ, the Voigt-Kampff test is designed to celebrate and protect human nature, but it ends up just revealing the feebleness of any rigid definition of what is “human.”

The Voigt-Kampff Test Quotes in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

The Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Voigt-Kampff Test. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Ballantine Books edition of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? published in 1996.
Chapter 5 Quotes

"Babyhide," Rick said. He stroked the black leather surface of the briefcase. "One hundred percent genuine human babyhide." He saw the two dial indicators gyrate frantically. But only after a pause. The reaction had come, but too late. He knew the reaction period down to a fraction of a second, the correct reaction period; there should have been none.
"Thanks, Miss Rosen," he said, and gathered together the equipment again; he had concluded his retesting. "That's all."
"You're leaving?" Rachael asked.
"Yes," he said. "I'm satisfied."

Related Characters: Rick Deckard (speaker), Rachael Rosen (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Voigt-Kampff Test
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:

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To Eldon Rosen, who slumped morosely by the door of the room, he said, "Does she know?" Sometimes they didn't; false memories had been tried various times, generally in the mistaken idea that through them reactions to testing would be altered.
Eldon Rosen said, "No. We programmed her completely.”
“But I think toward the end she suspected." To the girl he said, "You guessed when he asked for one more try."
Pale, Rachael nodded fixedly.

Related Characters: Rick Deckard (speaker), Eldon Rosen (speaker), Rachael Rosen
Related Symbols: The Voigt-Kampff Test
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 9 Quotes

"An android," he said, "doesn't care what happens to any other android. That's one of the indications we look for."
"Then," Miss Luft said, "you must be an android."
That stopped him; he stared at her.
"Because," she continued, "Your job is to kill them, isn't it? You're what they call — " She tried to remember.
"A bounty hunter," Rick said. "But I'm not an android."
"This test you want to give me." Her voice, now, had begun to return. "Have you taken it?"

Related Characters: Rick Deckard (speaker), Miss Luba Luft
Related Symbols: The Voigt-Kampff Test
Page Number: 101
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 11 Quotes

Preoccupied, Phil Resch drove by reflex; his progressively more gloomy train of thought continued to dominate his attention. "Listen, Deckard," he said suddenly. "After we retire Luba Luft — I want you to — " His voice, husky and tormented,broke off. "You know. Give me the Boneli test or that empathy scale you have. To see about me."
"We can worry about that later," Rick said evasively. "You don't want me to take it, do you?" Phil Resch glanced at him with acute comprehension. "I guess you know what the results will be; Garland must have told you something. Facts which I don't know."

Related Characters: Rick Deckard (speaker), Phil Resch (speaker), Garland
Related Symbols: The Voigt-Kampff Test
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Voigt-Kampff Test Symbol Timeline in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Voigt-Kampff Test appears in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
...at all—for all intents and purposes, they’re human beings. However, there is one test, the Voigt-Kampff Empathy Test, that’s designed to root out Nexus-Sixes. Because these robots are designed for intelligence,... (full context)
Chapter 4
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Bryant and Rick discuss the Voigt-Kampff test. It’s true, Bryant admits, that a few real human beings can’t pass this test.... (full context)
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
...the Rosens into their building, where he explains that he’ll be running a series of Voigt-Kampff tests on Rosen employees to root out potential androids. Rachael asks Rick to give her... (full context)
Chapter 5
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Rick proceeds with his Voigt-Kampff test for Rachael Rosen. He shines a bright light into her eye to measure pupil... (full context)
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Commodification and Consumerism Theme Icon
...into revealing the inconclusiveness of his own test—by testing Rachael, Rick has proved that the Voigt-Kampff is invalid. (full context)
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Animals and the Environment Theme Icon
Commodification and Consumerism Theme Icon
...will help the Rosen corporation hunt down the Nexus-Six androids. Rachael assures Rick that the Voigt-Kampff test will be sufficient for testing Nexus-Six robots. Rick agrees to these terms—he’ll hunt down... (full context)
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
Rick then has a suspicion, and tells Rachael he wants to ask her one more Voigt-Kampff test question. He tells Rachael that his suitcase is made from “human babyhide.” He notices... (full context)
Chapter 9
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
Rick proceeds with the Voigt-Kampff test, and Miss Luft reluctantly listens to his questions. She goes off on long tangents... (full context)
Chapter 10
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
...he’s found a body in Rick’s hovercar. A senior police officer asks Rick about the Voigt-Kampff equipment he’s carrying around, and tells Rick that he gets one phone call. (full context)
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Commodification and Consumerism Theme Icon
...of this police agency in his life. He claims that he’s never heard of the Voigt-Kampff test, and that Rick has probably been killing innocent human beings, not androids. Resch suggests... (full context)
Chapter 11
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
Rick proceeds with his Voigt-Kampff test, applying it to Phil Resch, another bounty-hunter. Resch nods and goes to get his... (full context)
Chapter 12
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
...for Luft, as Resch looks on, perplexed. Rick tells Resch that he’ll give Resch the Voigt-Kampff test soon, and Resch will see that he’s an android. Because Resch came to Earth... (full context)
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
...and Rick climb into the hovercar. Inside the car, Rick takes out some of the Voigt-Kampff equipment that he carries in his briefcase. He attaches adhesive pads to Resch’s cheeks and... (full context)
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
...Garland: Garland was trying to split up Rick and Resch. Rick wonders aloud why the Voigt-Kampff test doesn’t measure humans’ empathy to androids. Previously, Rick had believed that empathy toward robots... (full context)
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
Rick tells Resch that he wants Resch to administer the Voigt-Kampff test on him. Rick points the machines at his own eyes, and then says, “I’m... (full context)
Chapter 19
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
...an easier time retiring them, since he’s no longer legally required to give them a Voigt-Kampff test first. (full context)