The Tat: the Thematic Apperception Test

1488 words 6 pages
The TAT: The Thematic Apperception Test

Suzette Lamb

Argosy University

The TAT test was developed in the 1930s by psychologists Henry A. Murray, Christiana D. Morgan and other colleagues at the Harvard Psychological Clinic. The TAT Test or Thematic Apperception Test is a projective psychological test used to explore the unconscious of an individual in order to reveal the underlying parts of personality, internal conflicts, motives and interests. It has been one of the most widely used, taught and researched of tests of its kind (Combs, 1946).
The test evolved over approximately a decade in the 1930’s and 1940’ after a rocky start and three distinct revisions. An earlier manuscript titled “A Method for the Investigation of
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This works for the verbal answers but the individual non-verbal behaviors still need to be recorded by hand (Lundy, 1988).
There are two ways to interpret the responses but many psychologists believe that the idiographic interpretation works better with the TAT test. The idiographic evaluates the unique perception of the world that the individual has as well as their relationships while the nomothetic establishes norms and then measures the individuals’ responses with those norms (Cramer, 1996).
When the responses are interpreted, the examiner usually focuses on one of three important areas. Two of these are the tone or feeling and content of the stories. The content of the story is thought to reflect how the individual views the outside world as well as inner conflict and attitudes of the individual while the structure of the story usually reflects feelings, assumptions about the world and an underlying attitude of optimism or pessimism. The third is the individuals’ behaviors that are not in direct correlation to the responses. These can be non-verbal such as blushing, fidgeting, etc. as well as verbal remarks such as what a how bad they tell their stories (Lundy, 1988).
One of the criticisms of the TAT is that there is no normative scoring system for the responses. While there are systems that focus on one or two specific variables and may be practical in a clinical setting, they do not have comprehensiveness.
There has also been controversy in the world