9 Pages

Formal Aspects of the TAT — A Neglected Resource

WithRobert R. Holt

This chapter presents arguments and facts to support the position that much can be learned about the structure of personality from the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), primarily from a study of its formal aspects. The TAT was so designed that is struck a happy balance between freedom and control; not only was it an unrivalled source of dynamic hypotheses, but it allowed a useful variety of formal features of performance to emerge at the same time. There have been two main approaches to formal features of the TAT: test-centered and person-centered. From almost the beginning of TAT work, some people have recognized that there were formal aspects to the performance and that they were being neglected by H. A. Murray and Morgan’s content-oriented approach. Methods of clinical assessment like TAT, Rorschach, interview, autobiography, play sessions, etc., have in common that they pose a task that cannot be satisfied by a simple adaptive act, as can an arithmetic problem.