A Normative Guide to the Use of the TAT Cards

  • Robert R. Holt


In preparing this small handbook for the clinical use of the TAT, which I hope will be useful to personality researchers as well, I have assembled all of the normative data I could find, published or unpublished. In the course of doing so, I have been over the entire cumulative bibliography of the TAT—my own (which I allowed Henry to publish in his 1956 book and which is quite exhaustive through the early 1950s) and those published in Buros’s indispensable handbooks (1965, 1970, 1972). Only a few dozen titles out of approximately 2000 even suggest the presence of norms, and many of those proved of little value. Except for Eron’s valuable work (1950, 1953), I have found the unpublished material more complete, detailed, and extensive than what has made its way into print. There are many deficiencies of the normative literature besides its paucity—many studies give data for sets of cards, not for the individual pictures; or they comprise information on only a few cards, or they use nonstandard administration (e.g., stories written in response to projected images of the cards), aside from the sampling difficulties mentioned in the introduction. Further, the slight differences in definition of categories (for example, some authors lump “murder” with “suicide” while others distinguish them as I would prefer) or failure to define categories precisely make it frustrating to try to combine categories. For these reasons, I have leaned especially heavily on Fleming’s data on 100 adult males and females, supplemented by an application of her detailed, precise, and perceptually focused categories to data from up to 20 biologists, 19 physicists, and 18 artists (kindly given me by Roe; not all subjects were given the same cards), 53 Kansas highway patrolmen, 30 businessmen (Henry), and 31 to 50 psychiatric residents. Unfortunately, that makes a male, mostly middle-class, highly educated and sophisticated sample; where possible, I have compared frequencies with those given by the female half of Fleming’s sample, Eron’s (1953) norms for women, and Kiefer’s unpublished norms on 75 women and girls.


Emotional Word Female Sample Psychiatric Resident Emotional Tone Perceptual Distortion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert R. Holt
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Center for Mental HealthNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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