Development of the Athlete Apperception Technique (AAT)

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Gibbs, Petah M (2006) Development of the Athlete Apperception Technique (AAT). PhD thesis, Victoria University.


The purpose of personality assessment can be broadly divided into three categories: description, prediction, and intervention. In assessing personality, psychologists have relied heavily on developing, administering, and scoring personality tests and techniques. Personality tests can be categorised according to a range of schemas including: objective or projective tests, idiographic, or nomothetic approaches. Projective tests differ from objective tests in several ways. They are less obvious in their intent, are less structured, and rely almost exclusively on clinical interpretation. The growth of sport psychology has largely coincided with an era dominated by objective testing. With the increasing maturation of the field of sport psychology, there appears to be a greater appreciation for diversity of training models, research methodologies, and therapeutic approaches other than the cognitive-behavioural model. For example, psychodynamic formulations and interpretations have begun to appear more frequently in the sport psychology literature (e.g., Andersen, 2000; Giges, 2000; Hill, 2001; Strean & Strean, 1998). I believe the timing is right to develop a sport- specific projective test. In this dissertation, I focus on the processes followed to develop the Athlete Apperception Technique (AAT). Several researchers have used the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), developed by in 1935 by Morgan and Murray, as a guide to develop population and culturally specific projective tests. The AAT was also developed using the TAT as a blueprint. The majority of tests developed to assess personality in sport are essentially objective tests. Bouet (1970), however, took some tentative steps in developing a sport specific projective test. Unfortunately Bouet did not produce a test that could be of practical use to either researchers or practitioners. The current research extends Bouet’s work with the development of a projective test for use with athletes. Presented here are three studies. Study 1 was used to develop a preliminary image set (Set-A), depicting a wide range of sport related scenarios. Data collection incorporated the pilot testing of over 100 pictures and drawings of sport situations with approximately 200 athletes representing a number of sports and levels of participation. In Study 2, twelve experts (judges) rated image Set-B (48 images) on a range of criteria using Murray’s (1943) image set guidelines and Morgan’s (1999) image examination guidelines as blueprints. Upon completion of expert ratings the 27 highest rated images were developed into original drawings by a professional artist for subsequent use in the administration of image Set-C. In Study 3, 75 participants completed image Set-C with the focus being to trial and seek recommendations for the make-up of the final image set (Set-D). Participants wrote a short story about each image by identifying a central character, describing what had preceded the moment being captured, what they expected to happen, and describing the relationships between the central character and other depicted characters. Written responses (over 100,000 words) were analysed using several thematic content analyses methods (e.g., identification of stimulus properties of images, import summary including: dilemma, intention, complication, means, and outcome of stories). Standard descriptive statistics were also calculated. Based on both the qualitative and quantitative analyses image Set-C was reduced to a final image set (Set-D: 10 images). I have also included a case example to demonstrate the administration, analysis, and interpretation of responses to several AAT images. My objective is to develop the AAT to the extent that it can be used in research and applied settings. The ongoing challenge will be to popularise the use of the AAT. It is intended that the AAT can best contribute to sport psychological knowledge when findings are integrated with multiple sources of data (e.g., questionnaires, intake interviews). The AAT may help sport practitioners identify and assess personality features, relationships, anxieties, achievement motivation, and perfectionism. The significance of this research is the development of a projective assessment tool specifically for sport. The AAT should augment the recent shift in orientation for service delivery to athletes and provide a more in-depth understanding of athletes’ characters, motivations, anxieties, and hopes.

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Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1701 Psychology
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > Arts, Education and Human Development Faculty Office
Keywords athletes; psychological testing; personality tests; personality assessment; projective techniques; projective tests; apperception; sport psychology; AAT
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