Date of Degree

9-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Psychology

Advisor

Steven Tuber

Committee Members

Lissa Weinstein

Benjamin Harris

Susan Coates

Hilary Gomes

Subject Categories

Mental Disorders | Psychiatry and Psychology | Psychological Phenomena and Processes

Keywords

psychological testing, projective testing, TAT

Abstract

Psychodynamic assessment of object relations on projective tests has consistently been shown to contribute to a better understanding of children’s psychological functioning and to guide therapeutic interventions (Tuber, 1992). This research examines the enhanced utility of applying a psychodynamically-derived scale of children’s object relations to a commonly used projective assessment tool, the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) (Morgan & Murray, 1935; Murray, 1943). The current study investigates the adaptation and application of the Mutuality of Autonomy Scale (MOA) (Urist, 1977; Urist & Shill, 1982), commonly used as a Rorschach Inkblot Method object relations scale, to examine verbal narratives on the TAT. It was hypothesized that findings from the proposed study would demonstrate that the MOA is a readily employable scale for examining children’s object relational paradigms on TAT responses. A second aim of the study was to demonstrate concurrent validity between MOA scores and the Defense Mechanisms Manual (DMM), a well-validated tool for assessing developmental level of defenses on the TAT (Cramer, 1991). In addition, this work contributes to the need for empirically-validated, systematic approaches to interpreting TAT data (Rossini & Moretti, 1997; Cramer, 2004). The findings showed several expected, significant relationships between level of defense and object relations that confirmed the study’s hypotheses. Children who used the most mature defense of identification also showed more adaptive object relations. Use of denial, the most primitive defense, was negatively correlated with both maladaptive and adaptive object relations. Use of projection was correlated with the most disturbed object relations. The findings provide insight into the relationship between defenses and object relationships and contribute to the psychodynamic theory of personality development. The research constitutes an early stage of psychometric validation for the MOA as adapted for use with the TAT.

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