Essay Example: Use of TAT With Autism Populations

Published: 2023-04-03
Essay Example: Use of TAT With Autism Populations
Type of paper:  Critical thinking
Categories:  Medicine Mental health Autism
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1710 words
15 min read

Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) relies on creating stories based on images. Individuals are always told to come up with various related stories that are derived from a set of images. The use of the Thematic Apperception Test has been the most practiced mode of testing, researching, and taught tests. The TAT test was first developed in America in 1930 by Henry Murray and Christiana Morgan. The tests were first used to derived personality traits such as motives, interests, and assertiveness. Interestingly, the Thematic Apperception Test idea was brought about by Murrays' students at Havard. The TAT test is currently used to test the level of autism.

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Use of the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)

Also referred to as picture interpretation technique, TAT focuses on ensuring that an individual can tell different things from a set of images. A subject is asked to come up with a story from the collection of pictures by including the cause of events, current happenings, characters' personal roles, and own view on the outcome (Cripps 2017). In the case of people with low cognitive abilities and children, the evaluator may decide to help out by asking questions directly. The standard form of the Thematic Apperception Test always has approximately 31 cards that are used. Some of the cards include only male, female, or both genders, children, and adults (Kroncke et al., 2016). The cards were designed to match gender and age even though any subject can use any card.

TAT uses a scoring system that is used to measure the level of autism in individuals. Upon completion of the test, the narrator then records every result after which patterns of reaction, attitudes, and needs are identified. Since the development of the Thematic Apperception Test, various formal scoring systems have been identified. Currently, there are only two commonly used methods of scoring systems (Riddle, 2017). First, social cognitive and object relation (SCOR) is used to access four different objects relations. The four aspects of object relations include Understanding Social Casualty, Affect tone relationship models, difficulty in the representation of people, and Capacity for Emotional Investment in Moral Standards and relationships (Lee et al., 2019). Defense Mechanisms Manual (DMM) is another method of a scoring system. The DMM method relies on three mechanisms. The mechanisms are identification, denials, and projections.

Social Cognitive and Objects relations were used to measure social functioning. In some instances, Capacity for Emotional and Moral Investment in Relationships is also used to measure social functioning (Weiner & Greene 2017). During the Capacity for Emotional and Moral Investment in Relationships test, a low score always depicts a selfish attitude. High scores always reflect the ability to get involved in prolonged social interactions (Sperry 2016). In the Social Cognitive and Objects relations, the high scores show low scores show irrational knowledge in social and casual relationships. High scores, however, shows an individual has vast expertise in social and casual relationships (Stein & Mulford 2017). Social Cognitive and Objects relations and Capacity for Emotional and Moral Investment in Relationships rely almost on the same results.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a medical condition that affects individuals' social interaction and communication. As highlighted by McDougle (2016), the term spectrum in this case relates to the different symptoms as a result of the disorder. Autism spectrum disorder is considered to begin from early childhood. Thus, it later causes social problems in schools or even workplaces. Within the first year, symptoms of autism begin to appear (Verdon & Azoulay, 2020). Generally, there is no appropriate cure for the disorder. However, treating autism spectrum disorder at an early stage can make a huge difference.

Some of the symptoms associated with the autism spectrum disorder are lesser eye contact, not responding after being called their names, and frequent change of caregivers. In some cases, children might be seen to grow normally for the first 3 to 4 years. Later, they start losing focus on the communication skills acquired in the last years (Dutta 2020). Children with autism have difficulty when it comes to learning. They are considered to have low to middle intelligence levels. Other children suffering from the same disorder might have normal to high intelligence levels. Children with normal, high intelligence levels are fast learners though they may have problems in communication (McGay 2020). They may also experience difficulty in putting to practice what they learned in their specific classrooms.

Children who have autism spectrum disorder might be suffering from social interaction and communication skills. Some of the social interaction and communication skills that a child may lack include not recognizing his name. A child might be called severally with no response. Also, a child with the disorder might not be interested in cuddling. In most scenarios, the child prefers playing and staying alone (McDougle 2016). A suffering child might experience difficulty when it comes to expressing one's personal view or even maintaining a conversation. There is difficulty in recognizing people's body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice.

Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder are known to have a problem in interaction and communication. They also have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication. People suffering from Asperger's Syndrome (AS) which is a subtype of autism disorder are known to have low levels of social interactions (Malik et al., 2018). Unlike for patients suffering from the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), individuals with the Asperger's syndrome are known to be affected by verbal and non-verbal communication issues. Thematic Apperception Test is used to measure and help physiologists understand the behavior of individuals. Patients are examined by being told to create stories from images provided.

Autism Spectrum Disorder patients are known to frequently have low cognitive abilities, poor in interacting, and interpreting or even offering descriptions of specific incidences. The Thematic Apperception Test, however, helps the physiologists to know the rate of cognitive and interaction abilities from a patient (Lee et al., 2019). The TAT is always considered to work differently in some cases. In some instances, an ASD patient may provide a story based on different images. Both ASD and AS patients might be unaware of what they are required to do. Thus, it becomes difficult for them and the test to offer a reliable conclusion.

Despite the Autism being referred to having low cognition abilities, there are other incidences where autism patients were considered as having high levels of intelligence quotient (IQ). People with high levels of IQ are known as a genius (Riddle 2017). These kinds of autism patients, however, appear to be normal individuals especially after carrying out the thematic apperception tests (Jones et al., 2018). This seems to be one of the challenges experienced by psychologists when using the thematic apperception test. Its been a challenge for psychologists to look for ways to know and differentiate people with High intelligence Quotient levels.

Critiques for Thematic Apperception Test

Since its development, the Thematic Apperception Test has been considered to have several challenges and criticism. Scientifically, there has not yet been proven to be legit and valid. The test claims to test personality behaviors in Autism Spectrum Disorder patients. Moreover, the tests claim to provide an instant result (Emre 2018). The results have in the past been studied to be not accurate. In the case of Autism patients with high levels of IQ, the test has not yet proved its cause and accuracy.

The thematic Apperception Test, however, relies on generating personality traits from different individuals. Typically, ASD patients have different perspectives of life and using the test it is guaranteed that there will be less accurate results. As outlined by Tomkins (2018), autistic patients tend to have different behaviors in that they claim to be affected by the test. The test might show different results for different Autistic patients. Even though the TAT has several challenges, it continues to be the most preferred and reliable type of personality test.

In conclusion, the Thematic Apperception Test continues to be the most valid type of personality test. It measures the motives, and concerns by providing patients with images after which they have to come up with stories. In the case of patients with Autism disorders, the test has been critiqued to show different results. This is as a result that people have different perceptions, interests, motives about life.


Cripps, B. 2017. Psychometric testing: critical perspectives. Wiley, Print

Dutta, S. 2020. Detecting Autism Early. News Medical Life Sciences. Accessed on 2/13/2020

Emre, M. 2018. Five myths about personality tests. Washington Post. Accessed on 2/13/2020

Jones, R., Simonoff, E., Baird, G., Pickles, A., Marsden, A. J., Tregay, J., Charman, T. (2018). The association between the theory of mind, executive function, and the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. Autism Research, 11(1), 95-109.

Kroncke, A., Willard, M., Huckabee, H., & Reinhardt, J. S. (2016). Assessment of autism spectrum disorder: Critical issues in clinical, forensic and school settings. Springer

Lee, M., Nayar, K., Maltman, N., Hamburger, D., Martin, G. E., Gordon, C., & Losh, M. (2019). Understanding Social Communication Differences in Autism Spectrum Disorder and First-Degree Relatives: A Study of Looking and Speaking. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 1-14.

Malik, N., Hema, A, Sharma, U., Sharma, N., & Nagle, Y. (2018). Personality Profiling of Juvenile Delinquents through the Thematic Apperception Test. Clinical Research in Psychology, 1(2), 1-8.

McDougle, C. J. (2016). Autism spectrum disorder. New York, N.Y: Oxford university press.

McGay, M. 2020. One-fourth of children with autism spectrum disorder go undiagnosed, study finds. The Daily Targum. Accessed on 2/13/2020

Riddle, M. (2017). A characterization of gestational carriers using the thematic apperception test. Fertility and Sterility, Volume 108(3), e304.

Sperry, L. (2016). Mental health and mental disorders: An encyclopedia of conditions, treatments, and well-being. Santa Barbara, California

Stein, M., & Mulford, J. 2017. The Social Cognition and Object Relations Scale-Global Rating Method (SCORS-G): A comprehensive guide for clinicians and researchers. Taylor & Francis

Tomkins, S. 2018. The Thematic Apperception Test the Theory and Technique of Interpretation. Franklin Classics Trade, Press

Verdon, B., & Azoulay, C. (2020). Psychoanalysis and projective methods in personality assessment: The French school. Hongrefe, Print

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