Henry A. Murray: The Thematic Apperception Test Essay

In reading 36, from the book “Forty studies that changed Psychology: Explorations into the history of Psychological Research” by Roger R. Hock, Henry A. Murray is introduced as a Psychotherapist who creates a method of testing a person’s personality and subconscious, thoughts, desires, and fantasies; otherwise known as a “projective” test (Hock, R). Murray and his partner, Christiana D. Morgan created this test and called it the “Thematic Apperception Test”, also called the “TAT” test.

This test focused on the sole interpretation of their test subjects and depicted drawings and photos of people in realistic and relatable situations. The “TAT” test was adapted to measure anxiety by assessing associations of self (vs. other) with anxiety-related (vs. calmness-related) words” (Egloff, B & Schmukle, S). In the reading, Murray and Morgan, conduct a study on the effectiveness and possible flaws of this “TAT” test. The hypothesis of this study is if this “Thematic Apperception Test” is administered the subject/individual then will project their subconscious in their responses to the pictures/drawings of the “TAT” test. These results are then interpreted to help create a plan of action and a treatment plan for Counseling and Psychotherapy (Noy-Sharav, D).

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In 1938, Murray published a book on his “Thematic Apperception Test”. He writes about the conclusion and results to his study. In this study, Murray gathers a group of male participants between the ages of twenty and thirty years old. He keeps all his actions, directions, and experimental instructions and environments all identical to each participant/subject. He had each participant face away from the experimenter while being presented drawings/pictures in which they were then asked to create an elaborate and/or creative and imaginative story that describes the depiction.

Being that the subjects were not face to face with the experimenter presenting them the photos, it allowed the participants to feel more comfortable and not suggested any right or wrong answers, as well as allowed them to freely describe any situation they wished as a response. Due to the fact the entire study was timed the participants often only got to respond to fifteen pictures out of the total twenty of twenty that they were supposed to. They has no knowledge of the overall test’s/study’s true purpose; only that it was supposedly a test on their creative imagination.

After a few days the participants were called back to review their results and Murray had noticed the correlation of the responses, and how the test/study adequately represented normal and pathological aging processes (Verdon, B). Murray’s findings included many similarities across the participant population as well as some differences which distinguishes each individual as their own. Murray had discovered that in fact each response to each drawing was related to the participant.

For instance here is an experimental excerpt from Hock’s book featuring Murray’s study: “To illustrate further how the TAT reflects personal characteristics, one participant’s responses were reported in detail… [He] had moved to the United states from Russia after… World War I, including persecution, hunger, and separation from his mother… Murray described [the picture] (Not pictured here) as follows: “on the floor against The couch is the huddled form of a boy with his head bowed on his right arm. Beside him on the floor is an object which resembles a revolver” When [The participant] saw this drawing, his story about it was the following:

Some great trouble has occurred. Someone he loved has shot herself. Probably it is his mother. She may have done it out of poverty”. Murray’s hypothesis proved true because he had evidence that each responder’s answer did have personal connections and reflections to the participants own life, and that when responding to each situation and scenario depicted in the drawing they created stories from their own experiences, their friends, and other relatable sources which they have had personal connection or resemblance to.

References

Egloff, B. , & Schmukle, S. C. (2002). Predictive validity of an implicit association test for assessing anxiety. [Abstract]. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(6), 1441-1455. Doi: 10. 1037//0022-3514. 83. 6. 1441 Hock, R. R. (2009). Reading 36. In Forty studies that changed psychology: Explorations into the history of psychological research (pp. 276-283). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall. Noy-Sharav, D. (2005).

The Rorschach and the tat as relational instruments: Evaluating young couples with consensus Rorschach and tat. [Abstract]. Retrieved November 20, 2012, from http://web. ebscohost. com/ehost/detail? vid=3&hid=123&sid=4eab454d-c850-4c47-baea-0a53d5fe8dfa%40sessionmgr114&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=pdh&AN=2008-17773-011 Tuerlinckx, F. , De Boeck, P. , & Lens, W. (2002). Measuring needs with the Thematic Apperception Test: A psychometric study.

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82(3), 448-461. Doi: 10. 1037//0022-3514. 82. 3. 448 Verdon, B. (2011). The case of thematic tests adapted to older adults: On the importance of differentiating latent and manifest contents in projective tests. [Abstract]. Retrieved November 20, 2012, from http://web. ebscohost. com/ehost/detail? vid=3&hid=123&sid=dc7c03ea-5c47-4caf-a8cc-b6de98630396%40sessionmgr112&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=pdh&AN=2011-09345-004

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