thematic apperception test


Summary: A projective technique which focuses primarily on the dynamics of interpersonal relationships. It consists of a series of 31 pictures that depict various social situations and interpersonal relations. A subset is selected by the examiner and presented to the subject who is asked to tell a story about each picture. The stories are interpreted in terms of the subject's relations to authority figures, to contemporaries of both sexes, and in terms of the compromises between external demands and the needs of the id, the ego, and the superego. (From Campbell, Psychiatric Dictionary, 1996)

Top Publications

  1. Pica M, Beere D, Lovinger S, Dush D. The responses of dissociative patients on the thematic apperception test. J Clin Psychol. 2001;57:847-64 pubmed
    ..compared the responses of dissociative inpatients and general inpatient psychiatric controls on the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT; Murray, 1943)...
  2. Ackerman S, Hilsenroth M, Clemence A, Weatherill R, Fowler J. Convergent validity of Rorschach and TAT scales of object relations. J Pers Assess. 2001;77:295-306 pubmed causality, management of impulses/aggression, self-esteem, identity/coherence of self) ratings of Thematic Apperception Test narratives...
  3. Langan Fox J, Grant S. The effectiveness of sentence cues in measuring the Big Three motives. J Pers Assess. 2007;89:105-15 pubmed
  4. Turk A, Brown W, Symington M, Paul L. Social narratives in agenesis of the corpus callosum: linguistic analysis of the Thematic Apperception Test. Neuropsychologia. 2010;48:43-50 pubmed publisher
    ..agenesis of the corpus callosum (ACC) with normal intelligence provided narratives to pictures from the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) that were limited in logical coherence and social awareness...
  5. Tuerlinckx F, De B, Lens W. Measuring needs with the thematic apperception test: a psychometric study. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2002;82:448-61 pubmed
    Three apperception theories that explain how people respond to Thematic Apperception Test cards are proposed: a simple apperception theory, an apperception theory with a dynamic component, and an apperception theory with 2 types of ..
  6. Hibbard S, Mitchell D, Porcerelli J. Internal consistency of the object relations and social cognition scales for the Thematic Apperception Test. J Pers Assess. 2001;77:408-19 pubmed
    ..Relations and Social Cognition scales (ORSC; Westen, Lohr, Silk, Kerber, & Goodrich, 1989) for the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT; Murray, 1943) when cards are considered as items in a scale...
  7. Hibbard S, Porcerelli J, Kamoo R, Schwartz M, Abell S. Defense and object relational maturity on Thematic Apperception Test scales indicate levels of personality organization. J Pers Assess. 2010;92:241-53 pubmed publisher
    ..n = 155), we compared indicators of LPO with relative maturity of defenses and object relations using Thematic Apperception Test (Murray, 1943) scales (Cramer, 1991; Westen, Lohr, Silk, Kerber, & Goodrich, 1989)...
  8. Ma Kellams C, Blascovich J, McCall C. Culture and the body: East-West differences in visceral perception. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2012;102:718-28 pubmed publisher
    ..Study 4 examined one possible cultural mechanism for the observed difference and found evidence for contextual dependency as a mediator of the culture-visceral perception link. ..
  9. Iftene F. Internet use in adolescents: hobby or avoidance. Can J Psychiatry. 2004;49:789-90 pubmed

More Information


  1. Niec L, Russ S. Children's internal representations, empathy, and fantasy play: a validity study of the SCORS-Q. Psychol Assess. 2002;14:331-8 pubmed
    ..Westen, 1995) with children. Eighty-six 8-10-year-olds were administered 8 Thematic Apperception Test cards, a standardized play task, and a self-report empathy measure...
  2. Norman R. Extreme response tendency as a function of emotional adjustment and stimulus ambiguity. J Consult Clin Psychol. 1969;33:406-10 pubmed
  3. Stein M, Slavin Mulford J, Sinclair S, Siefert C, Blais M. Exploring the construct validity of the social cognition and object relations scale in a clinical sample. J Pers Assess. 2012;94:533-40 pubmed publisher
    ..The Thematic Apperception Test (TAT; Murray, 1943) was administered to 59 patients referred for psychological assessment at a large ..
  4. Lerner P, Lerner H. A psychoanalytic clinician looks at diagnostic labels and diagnostic classification systems. J Pers Assess. 2007;89:70-81 pubmed
    ..The scheme is applied to a clinical case and then we discuss it in terms of the functions such a scheme provides for assessment. ..
  5. Crighton M, Goldberg A, Kagan S. Reciprocity for patients with head and neck cancer participating in an instrument development project. Oncol Nurs Forum. 2002;29:E127-31 pubmed
  6. Silverstein M. Clinical identification of compensatory structures on projective tests: a self psychological approach. J Pers Assess. 2001;76:517-36 pubmed
    ..The clinical identification of compensatory structures on test findings is described using Rorschach and Thematic Apperception Test (Murray, 1943) content...
  7. Winter D, John O, Stewart A, Klohnen E, Duncan L. Traits and motives: toward an integration of two traditions in personality research. Psychol Rev. 1998;105:230-50 pubmed
    ..classic and current conceptions of trait (as measured by questionnaires) and motive (as measured by the Thematic Apperception Test [TAT] or other imaginative verbal behavior), the authors suggest that these 2 concepts reflect 2 ..
  8. Peterson B, Stewart A. Antecedents and contexts of generativity motivation at midlife. Psychol Aging. 1996;11:21-33 pubmed
    ..Finally, as young adults, generative women expressed gratitude toward mentors. The authors discuss theoretical implications for E. H. Erikson's (1950) concept of psychosocial generativity. ..
  9. Petot J. Interest and limitations of projective techniques in the assessment of personality disorders. Eur Psychiatry. 2000;15 Suppl 1:11-4 pubmed
    ..It has been advocated that indirect methods, projective techniques in particular, can strengthen PD assessment methods. The thematic apperception test (TAT) may be a significant adjuvant method of PD assessment.
  10. Cramer P. Longitudinal study of defense mechanisms: late childhood to late adolescence. J Pers. 2007;75:1-24 pubmed
    ..However, unlike current findings, the 18-year-olds did not show greater use of identification than of projection, perhaps due to IQ differences between this community sample and the samples of more recent studies. ..
  11. Sandstrom M, Cramer P. Defense mechanisms and psychological adjustment in childhood. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2003;191:487-95 pubmed
    ..Significantly, there was no relationship between children's use of denial and their level of perceived competence or between children's use of identification and their degree of maladjustment. ..
  12. Regan M, Liaschenko J. In the margins of the mind: development of a projective research methodology for the study of nursing practice. Res Theory Nurs Pract. 2008;22:10-23 pubmed
    This article presents an original research method derived from the Thematic Apperception Test used in clinical psychology to understand human motivation and action...
  13. Cramer P. Identification and the development of competence: a 44-year longitudinal study from late adolescence to late middle age. Psychol Aging. 2008;23:410-21 pubmed publisher
    ..defense mechanisms of denial, projection, and identification was assessed in late adolescence, based on Thematic Apperception Test (H. A. Murray, 1943) stories coded with the Defense Mechanism Manual (P. Cramer, 1991b)...
  14. Hutchings J, Gannon T, Gilchrist E. A preliminary investigation of a new pictorial method of measuring aggression-supportive cognition among young aggressive males. Int J Offender Ther Comp Criminol. 2010;54:236-49 pubmed publisher
    ..The results of this study are discussed and evaluated with reference to future work with young violent adolescents. ..
  15. Barbopoulos A, Fisharah F, Clark J, el Khatib A. Comparison of Egyptian and Canadian children on a picture apperception test. Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol. 2002;8:395-403 pubmed
    ..The findings validated cross-cultural use of the RATC and demonstrated that the increasingly general theory of collectivism allowed meaningful predictions about personality and clinical traits. ..
  16. Silber D, Karp S, Holmstrom R. Recommendations for the clinical use of the Apperceptive Personality Test. J Pers Assess. 1990;55:790-9 pubmed
  17. Schultheiss O, Brunstein J. Assessment of implicit motives with a research version of the TAT: picture profiles, gender differences, and relations to other personality measures. J Pers Assess. 2001;77:71-86 pubmed
    ..participants wrote imaginative stories in response to 6 picture cues of a research version of the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT; Morgan & Murray, 1935)...
  18. Kwon P, Campbell D, Williams M. Sociotropy and autonomy: preliminary evidence for construct validity using TAT narratives. J Pers Assess. 2001;77:128-38 pubmed
    ..1994). Stories given to 6 cards of the Thematic Apperception Test (Murray, 1943) were coded for need for Achievement (McClelland, Atkinson, Clark, & Lowell, 1953) and ..
  19. Borges N, Manuel R, Elam C, Jones B. Differences in motives between Millennial and Generation X medical students. Med Educ. 2010;44:570-6 pubmed publisher
    ..This study explored generational differences in medical students regarding motives using the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)...
  20. Inslegers R, Vanheule S, Meganck R, Debaere V, Trenson E, Desmet M, et al. The assessment of the social cognition and object relations scale on TAT and interview data. J Pers Assess. 2012;94:372-9 pubmed publisher
    ..validity of 2 versions of the Social Cognition and Object Relations Scale (SCORS), one for use with Thematic Apperception Test narratives (SCORS-TAT; Westen, 1990) and one for use with clinical interview data (SCORS-CDI; Westen, ..
  21. Eastwick P, Richeson J, Son D, Finkel E. Is love colorblind? Political orientation and interracial romantic desire. Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2009;35:1258-68 pubmed publisher
    ..Political orientation may be a key factor that influences the initiation of interracial romantic relationships. ..
  22. Ackerman S, Clemence A, Weatherill R, Hilsenroth M. Use of the TAT in the assessment of DSM-IV cluster B personality disorders. J Pers Assess. 1999;73:422-48 pubmed
    ..instrument used to assess an array of psychological functioning by using clinical narratives such as the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT; Murray, 1943) stories...
  23. Ritzler B. Boundary Disturbances Revisited: An Application With an Apperception Test. J Pers Assess. 2016;98:22-5 pubmed publisher
    ..was replicated using the newly developed Picture Projection Test (PPT), a modern alternative to the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)...
  24. Beaumont R, Newcombe P. Theory of mind and central coherence in adults with high-functioning autism or Asperger syndrome. Autism. 2006;10:365-82 pubmed
    ..These results support the theory of mind deficit account of autism spectrum disorders, and suggest that difficulties in mental state attribution cannot be exclusively attributed to weak central coherence. ..
  25. Katsavdakis K, Sayed M, Bram A, Bartlett A. How was this story told in the mother tongue? An integrative perspective. Bull Menninger Clin. 2001;65:246-65 pubmed
    ..The authors applied findings from therapy research using the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) to tease out differences and similarities in how stories are told in the mother tongue versus the ..
  26. Cramer P, Brilliant M. Defense use and defense understanding in children. J Pers. 2001;69:297-322 pubmed
    ..Likewise, older children who understood the functioning of projection were less likely to use this defense. ..
  27. Sundbom E, Henningsson M, Holm U, Söderbergh S, Evengard B. Possible influence of defenses and negative life events on patients with chronic fatigue syndrome: a pilot study. Psychol Rep. 2002;91:963-78 pubmed
    ..However, these retrospective reports might be confounded to some extent by the experience of the patients' illness; for example, the reports may be interpreted in terms of present negative affect. ..
  28. Cogan R, Ashford D, Chaney B, Embry S, Emory L, Goebel H, et al. Obsessiveness and a thematic apperception test-based measure of aggression. Psychol Rep. 2004;95:828-30 pubmed
    ..To test this relationship, we compared a Thematic Apperception Test-based measure of aggressive fantasies in college men who scored either high or low on the Obsessive-..
  29. Cramer P. Defense mechanisms and physiological reactivity to stress. J Pers. 2003;71:221-44 pubmed
    ..exposure to ten stress tasks; concurrently, the use of three defense mechanisms was assessed by coding Thematic Apperception Test stories...
  30. Porcerelli J, Abramsky M, Hibbard S, Kamoo R. Object relations and defense mechanisms of a psychopathic serial sexual homicide perpetrator: a TAT analysis. J Pers Assess. 2001;77:87-104 pubmed
    ..His Thematic Apperception Test (Murray, 1943) responses were used to code key aspects of personality organization--object relations and ..
  31. D Agostino A, Manni R, Limosani I, Terzaghi M, Cavallotti S, Scarone S. Challenging the myth of REM sleep behavior disorder: no evidence of heightened aggressiveness in dreams. Sleep Med. 2012;13:714-9 pubmed publisher
    ..Transcripts were analyzed with measures of both form and content. The Thematic Apperception Test was used to assess patients' personality traits and to yield information on formal aspects of waking ..
  32. Hiraishi H, Haida M, Matsumoto M, Hayakawa N, Inomata S, Matsumoto H. Differences of prefrontal cortex activity between picture-based personality tests: a near-infrared spectroscopy study. J Pers Assess. 2012;94:366-71 pubmed publisher
    ..during the Rorschach (1921), the Rosenzweig Picture-Frustration Study (PFS; Hayashi, 1964), and Thematic Apperception Test (TAT; Murray, 1943)...
  33. Yu J, Bernstein M. Brain tumor patients' views on deception: a qualitative study. J Neurooncol. 2011;104:331-7 pubmed publisher
    ..Patients prefer to have all the information necessary in order to make their own decision. ..
  34. Porcerelli J, Cogan R, Kamoo R, Miller K. Convergent validity of the Defense Mechanisms Manual and the Defensive Functioning Scale. J Pers Assess. 2010;92:432-8 pubmed publisher
    ..A total of 60 low income urban women from a primary care medical facility responded to four Thematic Apperception Test (TAT; Murray, 1943) cards and an interview of early memories and descriptions of significant others...
  35. Feinberg A, Griffin B, Levey M. Psychological aspects of chronic tonic and clonic stuttering: suggested therapeutic approaches. Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2000;70:465-73 pubmed
    ..Findings are examined in terms of the impact of type of functioning on maintenance of stuttering, and implications for treatment are discussed. ..
  36. Burns J, Holly A, Quartana P, Wolff B, Gray E, Bruehl S. Trait anger management style moderates effects of actual ("state") anger regulation on symptom-specific reactivity and recovery among chronic low back pain patients. Psychosom Med. 2008;70:898-905 pubmed publisher
    ..These CLBP patients may be at particular risk for elevated pain severity if circumstances at work or home regularly dictate that they should inhibit anger expression. ..
  37. Tracey T. Levels of interpersonal complementarity: a simplex representation. Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2004;30:1211-25 pubmed
    ..The complementarity-evaluation relation was mediated by base-rate-corrected complementarity. Implications relative to the operationalization of complementarity are discussed. ..
  38. Kim M, Cogan R, Carter S, Porcerelli J. Defense mechanisms and self-reported violence toward strangers. Bull Menninger Clin. 2005;69:305-12 pubmed
    ..who reported committing violence toward strangers (N = 30) and nonviolent college men (N = 30) completed Thematic Apperception Test cards (TAT) and responded to the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2)...
  39. Adewuya O, Adewuya A. Predictability of speech and language in Nigerian patients with psychosis: a controlled study. Psychiatry Res. 2006;143:199-204 pubmed
    ..The impairment of speeches of patients with psychosis cut across cultures. Further research will be needed to determine if predictability of speech can be of use in the diagnosis of psychiatric patients. ..
  40. Ornduff S. Correction and clarification for Ornduff, Freedenfeld, Kelsey, and Critelli (1994); Freedenfeld, Ornduff, and Kelsey (1995); and Ornduff and Kelsey (1996). J Pers Assess. 2003;81:179-82 pubmed
  41. Lysaker P, Daroyanni P, Ringer J, Beattie N, Strasburger A, Davis L. Associations of awareness of illness in schizophrenia spectrum disorder with social cognition and cognitive perceptual organization. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2007;195:618-21 pubmed
    ..organizational capacity are linked to insight, we assessed awareness of illness and administered the Thematic Apperception Test and Rorschach Inkblot Test to 31 adult participants with schizophrenia...
  42. Wu D, Waller S, Chatterjee A. The functional neuroanatomy of thematic role and locative relational knowledge. J Cogn Neurosci. 2007;19:1542-55 pubmed
    ..Intermediary convergence zones that are topographically guided by these sensory-motor points of entry play a critical role in the semantics of relational concepts. ..
  43. Alasad J. Managing technology in the intensive care unit: the nurses' experience. Int J Nurs Stud. 2002;39:407-13 pubmed
    ..The effect of machinery management on patient care is seen as part of everyday routine in the critical care setting. Moreover, technical activities are seen as more important and stimulating than other nursing activities. ..
  44. Cusack K, Grubaugh A, Yim E, Knapp R, Robins C, Frueh B. Are there racial differences in the experience of harmful or traumatic events within psychiatric settings?. Psychiatr Q. 2007;78:101-15 pubmed
    ..These racial differences merit further attention to better understand their meaning and to improve mental health services provided to both African-Americans and Caucasian public-sector psychiatric patients. ..
  45. Petrosky E. Teaching inference in personality test interpretation: verbal abstract reasoning and the TAT. Psychol Rep. 2008;102:83-94 pubmed
    ..Applied specifically to Thematic Apperception Test interpretation, the author discusses how the construct of verbal abstract reasoning can be utilized: as ..
  46. Bouvet C, Cleach C. [Early dropout patients in psychiatric psychosocial rehabilitation treatment and their bindings with relational skills, object relation and intensity of psychopathology]. Encephale. 2011;37 Suppl 1:S19-26 pubmed publisher
    ..Other studies are necessary for a better understanding of these drops out. An interesting way should be the study in institution of the therapeutic alliance. ..
  47. Klingberg G, Hwang C. Children's dental fear picture test (CDFP): a projective test for the assessment of child dental fear. ASDC J Dent Child. 1994;61:89-96 pubmed
    ..Full agreement in the final assessments (CDFP) was found between the dentists in 88.9 percent of the testings, indicating that the CDFP is a reliable method for measuring child dental fear. ..
  48. Morgan W. Origin and history of an early TAT card: picture C. J Pers Assess. 2000;74:88-94 pubmed
    ..quot; The unusual directions for the use of Picture C may possibly suggest awareness by C. D. Morgan and Murray of Schwartz's earlier work with the picture-story technique. ..
  49. Morgan W. Origin and history of the "Series B" and "Series C" TAT pictures. J Pers Assess. 2003;81:133-48 pubmed
    I present the origin and history of the "Series B" and "Series C" pictures of the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT; White, Sanford, Murray, & Bellak, 1941; Clark, 1944)...
  50. Palmiter D, Silber D. Assessing the validity of the semantic differential portion of the Apperceptive Personality Test. Psychol Rep. 2001;88:1235-44 pubmed
    ..These findings support the validity of the test's semantic differential items and suggest that guardedness tends to promote more similarity between Actual-self and Ideal-self and less similarity between Actual-self and Projected-self. ..
  51. Brand B, Armstrong J, Loewenstein R. Psychological assessment of patients with dissociative identity disorder. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2006;29:145-68, x pubmed
  52. Koelen J, Eurelings Bontekoe E, van Broeckhuysen Kloth S, Snellen W, Luyten P. Social cognition and levels of personality organization in patients with somatoform disorders: a case-control study. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2014;202:217-23 pubmed publisher
    ..Together, the results indicated that impairments in complexity of mental representations are not specific to SFD patients, yet impairments in emotional investment may be specific to SFD. ..
  53. Hoe S, Davidson D. The effects of priming on children's attitudes toward older individuals. Int J Aging Hum Dev. 2002;55:341-66 pubmed