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Perceptual reactions to the thematic apperception test cards Long, Barbara


This study deals with the initial stage of a programme of research investigating the nature of the stimulus factors in the Thematic Apperception Test. The primary function of the study was to categorize perceptual reactions to the TAT cards. A secondary aim was to compare the perceptual responses obtained from an abnormal group with those produced by a normal group in a parallel study. Descriptions of twenty-six of the TAT cards were obtained from forty mental hospital patients. From these protocols and those of forty normal subjects, empirically derived perceptual categories were developed. The perceptual responses were then assigned to these critical categories. Several reliability studies were carried out and a number of rules governing the assignment of the responses to the categories was developed. An inter-judge reliability of 91 per cent agreement was obtained. A frequency count was then made for both the normal and abnormal groups and Chi squares were computed in order to determine whether any differences existed between the groups in the frequency of response for each category. The number of percepts contained in each response was also counted and the two groups were then statistically compared on the basis of the number of single percept responses to each card. From a total of 216 categories, 16 significant differences were found. The cards in which these differences appeared were: 1, 2, 5, 6BM, 7BM, 8BM, 9GF, 12BG,14, 15, 17GF, 19 and 20. In eight of these cards the abnormal group produced a larger number of responses in the descriptive category than the normal group. The two groups differed slightly regarding the number of percepts contained in each response. All but one of the cards elicited more single percept responses from the abnormal group than from the normal one. Nine of the cards showed statistically significant differences between the number of abnormal and normal subjects giving single percept responses. By means of the statistical comparison, it was shown that the perceptual reactions of the normal and abnormal subjects were essentially the same; certain differences, however, between the perceptual responses of the normal and abnormal groups, were suggested. The study established that reliable perceptual categories could be developed and perceptual responses successfully categorized.

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