Book's Definition: A projective test requiring subjects to make up stories that explain ambiguous pictures.


  • Henry Murray and David McClelland produced the TAT. This test gave people a series of pictures and they had to write stories in response to what was going on in the picture. An example is on page 326 with the picture of the young boy playing a violin. The Psychologist took the responses and rated them with a high n Ach or low n Ach (n Ach = need of achievement). If the persons taking the test wrote about a desire of success then that person has that desire in them; this "persistence on difficult tasks" (p. 326). What the person chose to write about reflects their desires as well mainly because it is what they know, and it is a desire in them as well.

In Your Own Words:

  • Looking at pictures and making up your own stories to explain the scenario. Your explanations show your need for achievement.
  • A test in which a psychologist gives you a set of pre-determined pictures with no specific interpretation. You are supposed to compose a story behind these pictures. The psychologist then analyzes your story, and supposedly the story is supposed to reflect something in your own life and conscience. The psychologist interprets and tells you the results. Sometimes, they are surprisingly accurate!
  • A test to look at your personality.


  • Seeing a picture of a man and a woman fighting, and explaining that they are married and about to have a divorce, when in real life you and your husband always fight and are gatting a divorce.
Seeing a boy playing the violin. You devise a story that...
a) He has worked hard to get as good as he is
b) He is disadvantaged and is playing his brother's violin, with no hope of succeeding as a musician.
Both of these interpretations of the picture say something about you, your life, and your personality
You are shown a picture of a teenager walking with a backpack on. You devise a story about...
a) A teenager skipping school, and walking home external image tatpic21.jpg
b) A person walking to school showing his dedication to learning.
Whatever story you come up with tells something about you.

If you were to do a TAT on the picture to the right, you could say that
a). She had come home to find her husband of 5 years dead, by commiting suicide
b).Her husband has finally died from a horrible illness.
Both of these could have happened to you or a family member.

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