TAT - Research Methods


Many TAT practitioners don’t use any specific methods for administering their subjects to the process, however some follow some methods so that their reports can have some empirical basis, which can make their data reusable and inter-exchangeable to other practitioners.

Two of the most common methods are −

  • Defense Mechanisms Manual
  • Social Cognition and Object Relations Scale

Defense Mechanisms Manual

This method analyzes a person’s responses based on the honesty of his answers. If he is deliberately trying to project an unbelievably positive image out of all the cards, then he is in denial. In this evaluation system, someone in denial is considered to be the least mature in his thoughts and actions.

Someone who can manage to successfully project a relatable narration from the characters the image is carrying is considered to be somewhat mature and is given the tag of intermediate.

If a subject manages to not only project but also identify with the characters on the card and manages to relate with them on a personal level, then he is leveled as the most mature (identification).


Social Cognition and Object Relations Scale

This method involves four factors. It calculates the complexity of relationships the subject creates with the fantasy characters, how these characters affect each other, what kind of morals and emotional attachments these characters have, and finally – what will be the social outcome of the actions that the character’s practice.

Thematic Apperception involves a wait and watch technique. It’s more to do with reading between the lines as opposed to seeking explicit answers.

The entire process has been paraphrased below in relation to a scenario −


The image shows a small log-cabin with three anthropomorphic ducklings having breakfast with a big crow peeking inside through the window.

The subject is given time to formulate a story around the setting. Generally, the person starts by stating the obvious −

  • Examiner − What do you see here?

  • Subject − It is a picture of a small log-cabin with three ducklings having breakfast with a big crow peeking inside through the window.


  • Examiner − And then?

  • Subject − The crow looks ominous (the crow’s expressions are normal)


  • Examiner − What are they talking about?

  • Subject − They are planning to go out and play after breakfast. They won’t when they see the crow.


  • Examiner − Is that the end?

  • Subject − Yes.

Comment − The early hypothesis says that the subject has family members who may be shady in his opinion. Has definitely had experience with someone who has destroyed a delicate relationship he had with someone.



Once in the woods, three pigs were arm-wrestling, and it was two twins against one. In the end, the one wrestling solo won, and landed the palms of the other two with such force that the twins tumbled one over the other.

  • Examiner − Who are the twins?

  • Subject − Must be low-breeds.


  • Examiner − Are they alike in nature?

  • Subject − Yes.


  • Examiner − Are they fair in fighting?

  • Subject − They are losers.


  • Examiner − Are they boys?

  • Subject − Yes


  • Examiner − Were they hurt in the end?

  • Subject − Yes. Likely.

Comment − The subject seems to have experienced opposition from two or more people in his pursuit of a goal. He seems to have come across unfair people who used shady techniques in defeating him.