Thematic Apperception Test Personality Assessment

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Thematic Apperception Test for Personality Assessment
Karen Y. Long
Park University
Test and Measurement
September 2010

Abstract
The history of the Thematic Apperception Test is controversial. This test was published in 1943 and is still widely used today. Being able to look at a photo card as a stimulus for storytelling was a breakthrough for personality testing. This test has its share of controversy as far as reliability, validity and cultural implications. Key words; thematic, validity, reliability, personality.

Thematic Apperception Test for Personality Assessment
Personality test has been around for over a century and new ones are still being produced. Two of the most frequently used personality test is the Rorschach Inkblot Test, and the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT). We will look at the TAT’s origin, content, purpose, structure, administration and scoring guidelines. We will also look at the validity, strengths and weakness, and multicultural aspects of the test. The Thematic Apperception Test evolved after over decade of work and was finally “published by Henry A. Murray and the Staff of Harvard Psychological Clinic in 1943” (Morgan, 1995). There was a lot of controversy over who the author really was. Christina Morgan was originally cited as the senior author when the Series B cards came out but later removed Morgan, 2002). The test had been through three revisions and had a rough start. The goal of this test is to get a person to respond to indistinct stimuli so their personality could be better understood (Frey). By using this method, the therapist hope one would divulge and emotions that they are not showing and any internal conflicts (Frey). When the test first was published, it consists of a set of cards with pictures glued to them, mostly of people. Later more cards were created with pictures drawn in preparation for more use. The Series of cards were labeled “A-D’. “Series A” was the original set of cards and were in flux throughout development. “Series B” consist of thirty cards ten for men, ten for women and ten for both sexes. “Series C” have twenty eight cards that were used in 1942. “Series D” was issued in 1943 with thirty one cards and they are still in use today. These cards were modified over time to decrease the complexity and details in order to increase ambiguity (Morgan, 1995). The authors were probably trying to raise the likelihood of projective identification (Morgan, 1995). The purpose of the test is to evaluate personality in conjunction with other test. The TAT is extensively used to research certain subjects “in psychology, such as dreams and fantasies, mate selection, the factors that motivate people's choice of occupations, and similar subjects” (Frey). It is occasionally “used in psychiatric evaluations to assess disordered thinking and in forensic examinations to evaluate crime suspects, even though it is not a diagnostic test” (Frey). The TAT can also be helpful to individuals when it comes to understanding their own personality in with greater intensity and adding to that information in making significant life decisions. “Lastly, it is sometimes used as screener psychological evaluations of candidates for high-stress occupations (law enforcement, the military, religious ministry, for example)” (Frey). There is not a standardize set of rules for the TAT. The set of cards that are used are up to the clinician and the test is not timed. The administrator should explain the purpose of the test and clarify anything that’s confusing. Also they should make sure the room is quiet, and free of distractions. Murray intends for each person to be given twenty cards but due to time constraints, most people give ten to fourteen cards. Individuals are given cards and are told to tell a story about the cards. They have to tell what led them to their conclusion about the card. They have to express what the characters is feeling, thinking and what’s...
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