Unlocking Personality: Exploring the Thematic Apperception Test - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1786 Words
Date:  2023-03-21


Thematic Apperception Test is a criterion used to understand the fluctuations of personality, such as; internal conflicts, dominant drives, interests, and motivations (Gordon and Fleisher, 2010). Murray and Morgan developed the test in the 1930s at Harvard University. The history of apperception techniques dates back to ancient times. These include the classical Greek artists such as Da Vinci's comment on "the usefulness of decerning objects in the mud or the embers of a fire and Shakespeare's comment on cloud interpretation" (Aronow, Weiss & Reznikoff, 2013). Thematic Apperception Test is applicable for both adults and children and seeks to establish the personality traits of an individual and also establish the aspects and the extent of emotional disturbance. Hence, Thematic Apperception Test is applicable in different occurrences such as criminal investigations, assessment of adults' and children's overall emotional health after a trauma, and can be used by employers to seek to know their employee's personality and alignment to the set roles and responsibilities. This paper will review the Thematic Appreciation Test to ascertain its purpose, reliability, and overall application as a psychological test method to assess personality in a clinical setting.

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Purpose of the Test

The purpose of the test is to determine the personality of an individual, vocational interests, and also their intelligence. The test is used to determine both the unconscious and conscious inner desires, perceptions, and motives of an individual. The desire discernment is achieved through the use of pictures where an individual is required to tell a story about them. The story narration given by the individual exhibits their personality, vocation interests, and level of intelligence. The test is practical in that it helps to bring forth even the unconscious character of the individual (Leopold, 1950). According to Obrzut and Boliek (1986), the thematic test is "the most widespread projective techniques used with children and adolescents." More importantly, Thematic Apperception Test is used in psychology to conduct tests on fantasies and dreams, to understand one's mate selection, one's career motivations, to establish the cause of disordered thinking and forensic assessments on crime suspects despite not being a diagnostic test. Therefore, the Thematic Apperception Test is used to help further understand one's personality, and such knowledge can be used when making important decisions. In professional career guidance that is prone to stress such as the military, law enforcement, and religious practices, the Thematic Apperception Test is used to assess the practitioner's state of mind and ability to continue offering services in such sensitive careers.

Intended User and Settings

The test is for use in clinical practice and industries. In clinical practice, the test is used to determine the health status of a patient through the use of open headed questions. This helps the clinical practitioner to predict the condition the patient is suffering from. In the industries, the test is used when recruiting workers for a job requiring specialized skills. The test helps to determine the qualifications of the worker for the various posts by the way they respond to different questions directed to them. The test is also used in law enforcement pre-employment testing (Gordon and Fleisher, 2010). Therefore, clinically, the Thematic Apperception Test is used to assess individual psychological health and thinking, which is instrumental towards establishing potential behavioral or emotional disorders and initiating interventions in time. In industry, the Thematic Apperception Test can be used to assess the psychological health and personality of those in the position of leadership to ascertain their capability to handle different scenarios.

Test Description and Format

There are different formats for the test, which include; use of multiple questions, the use of open-ended questions, and also use of cards with pictures. The format is described by the steps explained below.

Presentation of a Situation

When using cards of pictures, the interviewer presents a picture to the individual being tested. In the use of questions, the question is presented with the first question, which sets the mood of the current situation. According to Jenkins (2007), the examiner needs to address the aspect of the situational-specificity of the stimuli, especially pictures, to get more accurate results. This requires the examiner to present very specific rather than general situations which will stimulate the individual to exhibit a specific response being tested.

Recording of the Response

The response of the individual is recorded, taking into account their feelings, voice tone, and gestures. The interviewer should be attentive to observe the response of the individual to ensure the accuracy of the test. According to Bellak (1950), the normal occurrence is that the administrator to record as the subject narrates the story. However, the more economical means can be applied, such as asking the subject to write down the stories themselves while giving them the instructions.

Precession of Events

The individual is presented with pictures that continue building on the set situations to bring out the various responses. This helps to bring out the individual's reaction to different conditions, which allows the interviewer to determine their personality. The presentation of events should be systematic. For instance, the pictures should follow the chronology of the events to give accurate results by avoiding obstruction of the subject's responses.


The interviewer then takes time to go through the notes about the reactions. This helps to come up with the various interests, values, and perceptions of the individual as displayed by his action. "Data analysis is the pivotal link between the stories and the results from structured scoring systems" (Jenkins, 2007). This, therefore, calls for the examiners to develop better subscales for scoring and avoid error variance, which may lead to inaccurate scores.

Scoring System

The scoring system for the Thematic Apperception Test involves taking into account the behavioral aspects. These are perceptual organization, perceptual range, and perceptual personalization (Dana, 1956). The scoring system developed by Murray is based on the need-press theory of personality which requires the coding of every sentence based on 28 needs and 20 presses (environmental motivations) that can be assessed on a scale of 1 to 5 based on the intensity of the need, importance, frequency, and the duration. However, due to the complexity and time required to complete the Murray scoring system, most clinicians use personal intuition and clinical knowledge to come up with conclusions. Over time other scoring metrics have been developed as described below;

Perceptual organization. This is taking into account the person's ability of the person to narrate a situation. The individual is scored by their ability to flow with the original perception of the situation. There are score sheets provided to record the individual's storytelling ability. Each of the score sheets contains a particular component that is scored either positive or negative. According to Diana (1956), the examiner should observe the description of the given by the individual about the image shown to him or her. The examiner should also note if the story addresses the aspects of what happened before, the present, and after the situation given.

Perceptual directions. This aspect helps the examiner to score the individual on the way they respond in comparison to the norms of various circumstances. For each stimulus, there should be many different norm responses expected, and the examiner should be keen to observe and record. The individual should be presented with an image or situation that will provoke the various characteristics being investigated. The examiner then observes the direction of the individual's perception by how they respond to those situations.

Perceptual personality. The examiner evaluates the responses, such as emotions shown by the individual with every situation presented to him or her. The examiner uses the emotions exhibited to be able to come up with the correct corresponding character of the individual. According to Dana (1956), the inclusions such words, phrases, and expressions shown by the individual, which deviates from relative consistency and organization of the individual's story, exhibit their character. These deviations, however, should be recorded if they are extreme to enhance accuracy.

General Interpretation of the Test

Thematic Apperception Test is interpreted by the analysis of the various responses of the individual. This is with the help of various situations presented, which makes the individual exhibit various characters that are important for the accuracy of the test. According to Wyatt, Pathak, and Zibarras (2010), the test help to determine "the dynamics of personality through the systematic selection of phantasy stimuli." The interpretation will vary from one examiner to another as well as the scoring system that the clinician will use. The scoring system is chosen depending on the goal of the evaluation, which will include motivation, problem-solving skills, defense mechanism, and achievement. The stories that are created by the responders during the Thematic Apperception Test depends on the pictures used, the testing environment, and the patient's personality. Therefore, the Thematic Apperception Test should be interpreted individually from one subject to another due to the unique associations of the cards used with the subject experiences and feelings. Common themes in the resulting response should be used to make conclusions. Further, it is recommended that the clinician should be conservative during the interpretation while taking the responder's cultural background and developmental stage into consideration.

Ease of Use

Thematic Apperception Test is easy to use since most of the population is conversant with it. According to Obrzut and Boliek (1986), the thematic test is "the most widespread projective techniques used with children and adolescents." It is also an easy way of acquiring the required information from a person. According to Wyatt, Pathak, and Zibarras (2010), it provides an opportunity to get even the unconscious information about a person which they could not have given voluntarily. Thematic apperception test is limited in some conditions. For instance, in clinical practice, it is not a tool "of choice for determining DSM Axis I diagnosis" (Jenkins, 2007).

Cost of Various Forms of the Thematic Apperception Test

Restructuring thematic apperception tactics that come up with a new way of telling a story comes at a cost, especially for use in the clinical area (Jenkins, 2007). Changing the tactics is necessary to develop new situations that relate to the latest generation lifestyle. Thematic Apperception Test is also time-consuming. The administrator has to spend a lot of time watching the responses of the subject keenly to be able to come up with a conclusion about their character. There are different forms of Thematic Apperception Test, one being the Children Apperception Test, which is administered to children from ages 3 to 15 years and helps to discern emotional disturbance in children and create the necessary interventions such as counseling and therapy. The other form of Thematic Apperception Test generally covers adults, and it is more common in the disciplined forces, the criminal justice systems, and can be applied by organizations. The test can be conducted in psychiatrist clinics across the United States and costs less than $100. This makes...

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Unlocking Personality: Exploring the Thematic Apperception Test - Essay Sample. (2023, Mar 21). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/unlocking-personality-exploring-the-thematic-apperception-test-essay-sample

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