Define apperception. Describe tests related to apperception.

Define apperception. Describe tests related to apperception.


In psychology, apperception is “the process by which new experience is assimilated to and transformed by the residuum of past experience of an individual to form a new whole”. In short, it is to perceive new experience in relation to past experience. The term is found in the early psychologies of Herbert Spencer, Hermann Lotze, and Wilhelm Wundt. It originally means passing the threshold into consciousness, i.e., to perceive. But the percept is changed when reaching consciousness due to its entry into an already present interpretive context; thus it is not perceived but apperceived.

According to Johann Friedrich Herbart, apperception is that process by which an aggregate or “mass” of presentations becomes systematized (apperceptions-system) by the accretion of new elements, either sense-given or as a product of the inner workings of the mind. He thus emphasizes in apperception the connection with the self as resulting from the sum of antecedent experience. Hence in education the teacher should fully acquaint himself with the mental development of the pupil, in order that he may make full use of what the pupil already knows.[Alfred Adler used the notion of apperception to explain certain principles of perception in child psychology. A child perceives different situations not as they actually exist, but by means of the biases prism of their personal interests, in other words, according to their personal apperception scheme.     Apperception is thus a general term for all mental processes in which a presentation is brought into connection with an already existent and systematized mental conception, and thereby is classified, explained or, in a word, understood; e.g. a new scientific phenomenon is explained in the light of phenomena already analysed and classified. The whole intelligent life of man is, consciously or unconsciously, a process of apperception, in as much as every act of attention involves the appercipient process.


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Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)


 The test is based on Murray’s Need theory, and is developed by Morgan & Murray(1935). TAT consists of 30 black and white picture cards (four overlapping sets of nineteen cards, each for boys, girls, men, and women) depicting people in ambiguous situations, plus one blank card. The usual procedure for administering the TAT begins by asking the examinee to tell a complete story about each of the 10 or so picture cards selected as appropriate for his or her age or sex. The examinees asked to devote approximately 5 minutes to each story, telling what is going on now, what thoughts and feelings the people in the story have, what events have led up to the situation, and how it will turn out. For example, one of the pictures shows a young woman in the foreground and a weird old woman with a shawl over her head grimacing in the background. The following story was told by a young college woman in response to this picture: This is the woman who has been quiet troubled by memories of a mother she was resentful towards. She has feelings of sorrow for the way she treated her mother; her memories of her mother plague her. These feelings seemed to be increasing as she grows older and sees her own children treating her the same way as she treated her mother. She tries to convey the feeling to her children, but does not succeed in changing their attitudes. She is living her past in her present, because the feeling of sorrow and guilt is reinforced by the way her children are treating her. From stories such as this, a skilled examiner obtains information about the dominant needs, emotions, sentiments, complexes, and conflicts of the story teller and the pressures to which he/she is subjected. As revealed by this story, responses to TAT pictures can be especially useful in understanding the relationships and difficulties between a person and his or her parents. When interpreting TAT stories, it is assumed that respondents project their own needs, desires and conflicts into the stories and characters. Interpretation of the stories is a fairly subjective, impressionistic process centering on an analysis of the needs and personality of the main character (hero/heroin), who presumably represents the examinee, and the environmental forces (press) impinging on the main character.


Senior Apperception Technique (SAT)


 The 16 stimulus pictures on this test, which was designed specifically for older adults, reflect themes of loneliness, uselessness, illness, helplessness, and lowered self-esteem, in addition to positive and happier situations. As in the case of the Gerontological Apperception Test (Wolk and Wolk, 1971), a similar instrument, responses to the pictures on the Senior Apperception Technique reflect serious concerns over health, getting along with other people and being placed in a nursing or retirement home. Both tests have been criticized for inadequate norms and possible stereotyping of the elderly.


Children Apperception Test (CAT) 


The Children’s Apperception Test (CAT) is a projective personality test used to assess individual variations in children’s responses to standardised stimuli presented in the form of pictures of animals in common social situations. The main purpose of CAT is to assess personality, level of maturity, and, often, psychological health of the children. The theory is that a child’s responses to a series of drawings of animals in familiar situations are likely to reveal significant aspects of a child’s personality. Some of these dimensions of personality include level of reality testing and judgment, control and regulation of drives, defenses, conflicts, and level of autonomy. The CAT, developed by Bellak and Bellak (1949), is based on the adult Thematic Apperception Test. The TAT, created by psychologist Henry A. Murray uses a standard series of 31 picture cards in assessing perception of interpersonal relationships. The cards, which portray humans in a variety of common situations, are used to make children tell stories about relationships or social situations. The obtained responses are analysed and the personality of the child is delineated which may consist of dominant drives, emotions, sentiments, conflicts and complexes. The examiner summarizes and interprets the stories in light of certain common psychological themes. In creating the original CAT, animal figures were used instead of the human figures depicted in the TAT because it was assumed that children from three to ten years of age would identify more easily with drawings of animals.


The original CAT consisted of ten cards depicting animal (CAT-A) figures in human social settings. The Bellaks later developed the CAT-H, which included human figures, for use in children who, for a variety of reasons, identified more closely with human rather than animal figures. A supplement to the CAT (the CAT-S), which included pictures of children in common family situations, was created to elicit specific rather than universal responses. Like the TAT and the Rorschach inkblot test, the CAT is a type of personality assessment instrument known as a projective test. The term projective refers to a concept originated by Sigmund Freud. In Freud’s theory, unconscious motives control much of human behaviour. Projection is a psychological mechanism by which a person unconsciously projects inner feelings onto the external world, then imagines those feelings are being expressed by the external world toward him or herself. As opposed to cognitive tests, which use intellectual and logical problems to measure what an individual knows about the world, projective assessments such as the CAT are designed to be open-ended and to encourage free expression of thoughts and feelings, thereby revealing how an individual thinks and feels.


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