Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Thematic Apperception Test

  • Robert M. GordonEmail author
  • Lucia Smith-Wexler
  • Erika M. Baron
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_2013




The Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) is a performance-based measure developed by Christiana Morgan and Henry Murray (1935). Described as a test of literary imagination, the TAT forms the basis of an intensive analytic study by psychologists who believe that stories reveal aspects of human nature that may otherwise remain unknown. According to Murray and Morgan, this systematic approach has provided a method to investigate those original, highly personal themes that constitute the unique personality of each individual. The core themes, subtle nuances, and even the omissions that emerge are variants of an underlying narrative or personal representation of the individual’s past and present experience (Cramer 1996).

The TAT consists of 31 black and white pictures printed on a bristol board and designed for use as follows – 11 were designed for all sexes and ages (MF cards), seven for only girls and women (GF cards), seven for only boys and men (BM cards), one for...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References and Reading

  1. Ackerman, S. J., Clemence, A. J., Weatherill, R., & Hilsenroth, M. J. (1999). The use of the TAT in the assessment of DSM-IV personality disorders. Journal of Personality Assessment, 73, 422–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bellak, L., & Abrams, D. M. (1997). The TAT, CAT and SAT in clinical use (6th ed.). New York: Grune & Stratton.Google Scholar
  3. Bram, A. (2014). Object relations, interpersonal functioning, and health in a nonclinical sample: Construct validation and norms for the TAT SCORS-G. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 31, 314–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Carmara, W. J., Nathan, J. S., & Puente, A. E. (2000). Psychological test usage: Implications for professional psychology. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 12, 141–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Constantino, G., Litman, L., Waxman, R., Dupertuis, D., Pais, E., Rosenzweig, C., Forti, G., Paronik, J., & Canales, M. M. F. (2014). Tell-Me-A-Story (TEMAS) assessment for culturally diverse children and adolescents. Rorschachiana, 35, 154–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cramer, P. (1996). Storytelling, narrative, and the thematic apperception test. New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  7. Dana, R. H. (1996). The thematic apperception test. In: C. S. Newmark (Ed.). Major psychological assessment instruments (2nd ed), pp. 166–205. Needham Heights, Mass.: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  8. Dana, R. H. (2005). Multicultural assessment: Principles, applications, and examples. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Eurelings-Bontekoe, E., Zwinkels, K., Schaap-Jonker, H., & Edrisi, M. (2011). Formal characteristics of thematic apperception test narratives of adult patients with autism spectrum disorder: A preliminary study. Psychology, 2, 687–693.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fowler, J. C., Ackerman, S. J., Speanberg, S., Bailey, A., & Blagys, M. (2004). Personality and symptom change in treatment-refractory inpatients: Evaluation of the phase model of change using Rorschach, TAT, and DSM-IV Axis V. Journal of Personality Assessment, 83, 306–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gieser, L., & Stein, M. I. (1999). Evocative images: The thematic apperception test and the art of projection. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Groth-Marnat, G. (2003). Handbook of psychological assessment (4th ed.). Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
  13. Hiraishi, H., Haida, M., Matsumoto, M., Hayakawa, N., Inomata, S., & Matsumoto, H. (2012). Differences of prefrontal cortex activity between picture-based personality tests: A near-infrared spectroscopy study. Journal of Personality Assessment, 94, 366–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Morgan, W. G. (1995). Origins and history of thematic apperception images. Journal of Personality Assessment, 65, 237–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Morgan, C. D., & Murray, H. A. (1935). A method for investigating fantasies. AMA Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry, 34, 389–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Nath, S. R., Lee, A. J., Belcher-Timme, Z., & Chau, C. P. (2014). Projective testing with Asian clients. In L. T. Benuto, N. Thaler, & B. D. Leany (Eds.), Guide to psychological assessment with Asians (pp. 121–133). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  17. Papini, S., Yoon, P., Rubin, M., Lopez-Castro, T., & Hien, D. A. (2014). Linguistic characteristics in a non-trauma-related narrative task are associated with PTSD diagnosis and symptom severity. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 7, 295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Paul, L. K., Schieffer, B., & Brown, W. S. (2004). Social processing deficits in agenesis of the corpus callosum: Narratives from the thematic apperception test. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 19, 215–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Pennebaker, J. W., Francis, M. E., & Booth, R. J. (2001). Linguistic inquiry and word count: LIWC 2001 manual. Mahwah: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  20. Peters, E. J., Hilsenroth, M. J., Eudell-Simmons, E. M., Blagys, M. D., et al. (2006). Reliability and validity of the social cognition and object relations scale in clinical use. Psychotherapy Research, 16, 617–626.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Rabin, L. A., Barr, W. A., & Burton, L. A. (2005). Assessment practices of clinical neuropsychologists in the United States and Canada: A survey of INS, NAN, and APA division 40 members. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 20, 33–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Rossini, E. D., & Moretti, R. J. (1997). Thematic apperception test (TAT) interpretation: Practice recommendations from a survey of clinical psychology doctoral programs accredited by the American Psychological Association. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 28, 393–398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Shrout, P., & Fliess (1979). Intraclass correlations: Uses in assessing rater reliability. Psychological Bulletin, 86, 420–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Stein, M., Hilsenroth, M., Slavin-Mulford, J., & Pinsker, J. (2011). Social cognition and object relations scale: Global rating method (SCORS-G) (4th ed.). Unpublished manuscript. Boston: Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.Google Scholar
  25. Sweet, J. J., Moberg, P. J., & Suchy, Y. (2000). Ten-year follow-up survey of clinical neuropsychologists: Part I: Practice and beliefs. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 14, 18–37.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Turk, A. A., Brown, W. S., Symington, M., & Paul, L. K. (2010). Social narratives in agenesis of the corpus callosum: Linguistic analysis of the thematic apperception test. Neurpsychologia, 48, 43–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Westen, D. (1995). Social cognition and object relations scale: Q-sort for projective stories (SCORS-Q). Unpublished manuscript. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge Hospital and Harvard Medical School.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert M. Gordon
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lucia Smith-Wexler
    • 3
  • Erika M. Baron
    • 2
  1. 1.Rusk RehabilitationNew York University Langone Medical CenterNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Pace UniversityNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Rusk Rehabilitation, New York University Langone HealthNew YorkUSA