Chieldren's apperception test

Children’s Apperception Test (CAT)

Overview: The Children’s Apperception Test (CAT) is a projective personality test used to assess individual alteration in children’s responses to standardized stimuli presented in the form of pictures of animals (CAT-A) or humans (CAT-H) in common social situations. The supplement (CAT-S) includes the pictures of children in common family situations (i.e., prolonged illness, births, deaths, physical disability, mother’s pregnancy, separation of parents). It consists of 10 animal pictures in a social context involving the child in conflict, identities, roles, family structures, and interpersonal interaction.

Purpose: CAT is designed to assess personality, level of maturity, and, often, psychological health.

Format: Paper and pencil

Population: Ages 3 to 10 years.

Score: N/A.

Time: 20-45 minutes.

Authors: Leopold Bellak and Sonya Sorel Bellak.

Publisher: C.P.S. Publishing LLC.

Description: The Children’s Apperception Test (CAT) is developed by psychiatrist and psychologist Leopold Bellak and Sonya Sorel Bellak and first published in 1949, is based on the picture-story test called the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT).

The CAT is a projective personality test describing personality by studying individual differences in the responses to stimuli presented in the form of pictures of animals in selected settings to assess individual alteration in children’s responses to standardized stimuli presented in the form of pictures of animals (CAT-A) or humans (CAT-H) in common social situations. The supplement to the original CAT (CAT-S) includes pictures of children in common family situations (i.e., prolonged illness, births, deaths, physical disability, mother’s pregnancy, separation of parents).

CAT cards

The children’s apperception test consists of 10 items of 10 scenes presenting a variety of animal figures, mostly in precisely human social settings. The use of animal rather than human figures was based on the assumption that children of these ages would identify more readily with appealing drawings of animals than with drawings of humans.

The author discusses interpretation on the basis of psychoanalytic themes, but there is no compelling reason that Children’s Apperception Test protocols could not be interpreted from other theoretical frameworks. The CAT is designed to be open-ended and to encourage free expression of thoughts and feelings, thereby revealing how an individual thinks and feels.

Scoring: In CAT, there is no right or wrong answer. This projective technique is not “scored” in a quantitative sense. The gist of stores is recorded, and the presence or absence of thematic elements is indicated on the form provided.

Reliability and Validity: No statistical information is provided on the technical validity and reliability of the CAT.

Norms: Information on norms is not included in the manual.

Suggested Uses: The CAT is designed to be used in clinical, educational, and research contexts, the examiner provides a data source, based on the child’s views and perceptions, for a better understanding of the needs, reasons, the child’s current emotions, and conflicts, both conscious and unconscious.

Key words:

Apperception: The process of understanding through linkage with previous experience.

Projective test: A type of psychological test that assesses a person’s thinking patterns, observational ability, feelings, and attitudes on the basis of responses to ambiguous test materials. Projective tests are often used to evaluate patients with personality disorders.

Rorschach test: A well-known projective test in which subjects are asked to describe a series of black or colored inkblots. The inkblots allow the patient to project his or her interpretations, which can be used to diagnose particular disorders. It is also called as the Rorschach Psychodiagnostic Test.

Reference:

  • Camara, W. J., et al. “Psychological test usage: implications in professional psychology.” Professional Psychology: Research and Practice 31 (2000): 141–54.
  • Kamphaus, R. W., et al. “Current trends in psychological testing of children.” Professional Psychology: Research and Practice 31 (2000): 155–64.
  • Bellak, L. (1968). Discussion: The Children’s Apperception Test: Its use in developmental assessments of normal children: Journal of Projective Techniques & Personality Assessment 32(5) 1968, 425-427.
  • Bellak, L. (1976). Ego Function Assessment in the TAT, CAT, and SAT: PsycCRITIQUES Vol 21 (5), May, 1976.
  • Bellak, L., & Bellak, S. S. (1950). An introductory note on the Children’s Apperception Test (CAT): Journal of Projective Techniques 14 1950, 173-180.
  • Bellak, L., & Hurvich, M. S. (1966). A Human modification of the Children’s Apperception Test (CAT-H): Journal of Projective Techniques & Personality Assessment 30(3) 1966, 228-242.
  • Abrams, D. M. (1993). Pathological narcissism in an eight-year-old boy: An example of Bellak’s TAT and CAT diagnostic system: Psychoanalytic Psychology Vol 10(4) Fal 1993, 573-591.
  • Adams, N. M., & Caldwell, W. E. (1963). Children’s Somatic Apperception Test: A technique for quantifying body image: Journal of General Psychology 68(1) 1963, 43-57.

Books

  • Bellak, L. (1954). The Thematic Apperception Test and the Children’s Apperception Test in clinical use. Oxford, England: Grune & Stratton.
  • Bellak, L., & Abrams, D. M. (1993). The Thematic Apperception Test, the Children’s Apperception Test, and the Senior Apperception Technique in clinical use (5th ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
  • Bellak, L., & Abrams, D. M. (1997). The Thematic Apperception Test, the Children’s Apperception Test, and the Senior Apperception Technique in clinical use (6th ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
  • Bellak, L., & Bellak, S. S. (1949). Children’s Apperception Test. Oxford, England: C P S Co , P O Box 42, Gracie Sta.
  • Bellack, L., & Siegel, H. (1989). The Children’s Apperception Test (CAT). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
  • Bellak, L., & Bellak, S. S. (1952). The supplement to the Children’s Apperception Test (C.A.T.-S). Oxford, England: C P S Co , P O Box 42, Gracie Sta.
  • Costantino, G., Flanagan, R., & Malgady, R. G. (2001). Narrative assessments: TAT, CAT, and TEMAS. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  • Faust, J., & Ehrich, S. (2001). Children’s Apperception Test (C.A.T.). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

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