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A Study of the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) with Japanese Subjects

by Jennifer L. Gray

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Institution: Southern California University for Professional Studies
Advisor(s): Barbara Lackey
Degree: Ph.D., Psychology
Year: 1998
Volume: 124 pages
ISBN-10: 1581120427
ISBN-13: 9781581120424


The purpose of the study was to identify common themes on the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) for Japanese subjects. In addition, Japanese TAT themes were compared with American TAT themes (Stein, 1981) for any significant differences. It was hypothesized that significant differences in narrative themes would exist between Japanese and American subjects.

The subjects included sixty male and female college students attending courses in Tokyo, Japan. Subjects were enrolled in college courses during the administration of the test and ranged in age from 18 to 27 years of age. All the participants were fluent in English--allowing them to make responses in that language; therefore, eliminating the errors inherent in translation. Japanese subjects were then compared with Morris I. Stein's original study of eighty American males conducted in 1981.

Ten of the original Murray TAT cards were used: 1, 2, 3BM, 4, 6BM, 7GF, 8BM, 10, 11 and 14. Japanese narratives were then scored using five variables for each of the ten cards: hero gender, the incidence of death, need for achievement, dominant emotional tone and the outcome of the story.

In conclusion, common TAT themes for Japanese subjects were identified for all ten of the cards that were administered. Cards 1, 2, 4, 8BM, 10, 11 and 14 shared many of the same themes for Japanese and American subjects. On the other hand, cards 3BM, 6BM and 7GF varied in theme content for Japanese and American subjects. These findings will help determine the validity and reliability of the TAT as an assessment tool for Japanese subjects, and open the door for future studies of Asian populations in the United States as this population is underrepresented in much of the research and literature of today.