Everything You Need To Know About The Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)

How many of you face the problem of mixed feelings conflicts, interests and motives? I think a lot of you have experienced this. If you’ve been surfing over the internet to find the best way to diagnose your mental health, then you must have read about the Thematic Apperception Test. So, what this test is all about? Well, here we are going to share each and everything about the Thematic Apperception Test with you.

What is the Thematic Apperception Test?

The Thematic Appreciation Test (TAT) is a visually instructive technique where the subject is shown a number of photos of vague resemblance to real-world artefacts and then tells a story that connects and utilizes the photographs as a reference to the plot. This ultimately consists of a projective test that identifies the uncertain scenes in which individuals may judge their thinking patterns, behaviours, the potential for perception and emotional responses to unclear objects.

This test was discovered by the American psychologists Henry A. Murray and Christiana D. Morgan at Harvard University in the 1930s to see the underlying dynamics of a person’s personality. It is the most widely researched test in use today. It is claimed that the TAT exploits an implicit topic to expose hidden facets of identity, desires and needs for success, strength, affection and solving problems in a person.

How Does the Thematic Apperception Test Work?

The rationale behind TAT is that participants prefer to perceive and explain uncertain situations depending on their own perceptions and motives in the modes of memory by looking at the pictures shown to them. The technique involves showing respondents vague photographs and challenging them to explain what is happening in the picture. The subject needs to explain what happens in the picture, including events leading to the scenario, what happens in the scene, what each person thinks or feels and what happens next. There are a lot of people who are challenged to tell a story by analyzing the picture.

This test has helped the psychologists in finding a link between fantasy and violent behaviour of a person. Psychologists want to consider the links between the violence drive, fantasy and the effect of these acts on a person. Through TAT, psychologists can find out the clear signs of subtle aggression. The focus in TAT is to look beyond the fields in which a person speaks, read between lines and understands the information it wants to reveal.

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The complete TAT includes 31 pictures depicting a number of events, people, situations, social scenes, etc. The practitioner uses photographs that match the client’s situations and needs. If a picture that has shown to the person depicting a family and things related to their past traumatic experiences, then this can hesitate him/her and indicate the subject to have an issue related to family or their past. Factors that are taken into consideration while knowing a person’s problems are their voice tones, eye movements, body signs, body posture, hesitations, traits of anxiety, etc. People who’ve been suffering from serious mental disorder need to diagnose their condition with the help of the Thematic Appreciation Test. 

The procedure of Thematic Appreciation Test

Thematic Appreciation Test is basically a picture interpretation technique in which a subject is asked to tell a story by analyzing a number of pictures. There are 31 picture cards, in which 30 cards have images and one is blank. Subjects are supposed to explain the photos in a narrative way. People often narrate a story keeping in mind their own situation. The blank card is meant to allow people to create their own scenario and plot. The questions that are asked from the subject are –

·          What is shown in the picture?

·          What the moment is all about?

·          What is the character feeling and doing in the picture?

·          What is the story of these pictures?

·          What is the outcome of the story?

The cards are originally designed to suit the age, gender and situation of the subject. Many people chose around 10 cards that they generally feel are helpful or that they think would facilitate the communication of emotional tensions related to the specific history and circumstance. People often choose photos that match their life’s situation. The subject is clearly recorded and analyzed. Several scoring systems have also been developed to understand the level of a person’s mental health. 

How Is the Thematic Apperception Test Used?

To know about the subject

Psychologists often used the Thematic Apperception Test on a person to understand the hidden emotions of sadness, aggression, love, guilt, anxiety, etc. People often hesitate while describing their mental situation. To understand such people Thematic Apperception Test is performed on them.

To let subjects express their feelings

Sometimes people don’t express their feeling directly to the clients. To be able to identify the feelings of a person, psychologists perform a Thematic Apperception Test as a therapeutic tool on people. 

To explore the issues in the subject’s life

People often get mentally disturbed when they lose a job, face difficulties in relationships or have some major health issues. By seeing the ambiguous scenes in the pictures they might relate their life’s situations and circumstances allowing the psychologist to explore deeper about the issues in the subject’s life.

To know the psychological condition of a person

People often have personality and thought a disorder that can be evaluated with the help of the Thematic Apperception Test.

To use as a forensic tool

The psychologists encounter a lot of criminals. To test if the person matches the profile of crime suspect, Thematic Apperception Test is performed on them. Recently the Thematic Apperception Test was administered on a man who was in prison for committing a series of sexual murders. The result of tests showed that the person is not mentally stable and outside normal limits.

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To access career

A lot of jobs need people who need to cope up with stress, manipulation and aggression, such as military and intelligence agency. The Thematic Apperception Test is often performed on people to see if the person is suited for a particular position in the agency.

Significance of the Thematic Apperception Test

The Thematic Apperception Test can give a detailed evaluation of a person’s subconscious behaviour. It can easily detect the mental issues in a person that might lead to some serious problem in their personal, social and official life. The Thematic Apperception Test is also performed on children to have a clue to their thought process and mental condition. Children who have encountered the problem of ragging in the school start keeping a distance from other children too. This way, children feel isolated and tough assimilate back in the classroom and make friends. It’s very important to keep a track of your child’s behaviour and if he/she behaves in a negative manner, try to help them with your own. If your child is showing aggressive behaviour, like to live alone, don’t talk much and not showing any improvement in academics then consult a psychologist to know their mental condition. You can take the help of The Thematic Apperception Test to understand your child’s situation. 

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