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A comparison of three methods of scaling the ambiguity of thematic apperception cards Kuechler, Hans Albert

Abstract

The primary purpose of this study was the comparison of the rank orders of Thematic Apperception Test cards scaled by three different methods of ambiguity. An additional problem was the comparison of these ambiguity rank orders with personality variables drawn from the literature. For the first method of perceptual ambiguity five descriptive statements for each TAT card were used to obtain the proportional agreement of eighty-four judges on which of these statements was most expressive of what they saw in the card. The degree of agreement of the judges provided the basis for numerical indices and subsequent rank orders by ambiguity. The validity of the descriptive categories was determined by comparing the proportional agreement found in this study with the frequency with which the statements occurred in the original study. A comparison of ranks based on these data showed a greater than 99 per cent validity for the categories. The second method of ambiguity utilized fourteen need concerns rank ordered for each TAT card. The proportional agreement of the judges on the first ranking need was used In order to determine an index of ambiguity and the cards rank ordered on that basis. The agreement of the judges on all fourteen ranks was determined by the average intercorrelation. The rank order of the TAT cards based on the average Inter-correlation indices was compared with the rank order derived from the choice of first rank. All rank orders of the TAT cards, when compared as to sex differences, correlated highly, indicating that the sexes do not appreciably differ in their perceptual and schematic reactions. The rank orders based on the descriptive statements were compared with those based on the rank order of need concerns. The lack of rank order correlation between the two methods led to the conclusion that ambiguity values of TAT cards differ, when they are based on perceptual reactions, from those based on schematic activity which is involved in the ranking of the needs. A third method of scaling the ambiguity of TAT cards is based on the subjective consensus of judges on the number of interpretations for each card. The rank order of this method was correlated with the rank orders by perceptual ambiguity and themata ranking. A lack of comparability with both methods was accounted for by the theory that in the subjective consensus method the global judgement of the subjects relied on both perceptual reactions and schematic processes and is therefore not comparable with ranks based on either the perceptual reaction or the schematic process alone. A comparison of the perceptual and schematic ambiguity rank orders was made with quantitative data from TAT research. It was found that neither perceptual nor schematic ambiguity varied with the productivity of themes, the total number of words, or the emotional tone of TAT stories. No covariance was found between personality revealingness and levels of perceptual or schematic ambiguity. The mean number of emotional words and the number of statements going beyond the pure description of the cards showed no significant correlation with levels of perceptual or schematic ambiguity. Similarly, behavioral response patterns and problems induced by the TAT cards revealed no commensurate variation with schematic and perceptual ambiguity. The lack of correlation with personality variables was explained by the fact that in all instances, the data are the result of complex psychological functions, including both perceptual and schematic functions, and are therefore not comparable to ambiguity rank orders based on perceptual reactions or schematic reactions alone.

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