The Name of the Test
The Children’s Apperception Test (CAT), according to Albert I. Rabin (1995) “was first published in 1949, and the manual reviewed was the eighth revised edition.” The test was revised in 1991. The Children’s Apperception Test is an extension from the TAT, which is for adults, using pictures of humans rather than animals. There is a CAT-H that uses human pictures, which was created after a controversy about whether animal or human pictures were best. There is also a CAT-S supplement.
Purpose of the Test
The Children’s Apperception Test (CAT) is a projective personality test used on children ages 3-10 years old. Children will decipher a series of 10 pictures consisting of animals, each in different situations. The purpose of this test is to reveal the child’s thoughts and feelings towards conflicts and relationships at conscious and unconscious levels based on the story they made up with each picture (Hatt, 1980). This test was originally designed to understand psychosexual conflicts at different stages of child development. Today, the CAT is used mainly in clinical evaluation. Knoff (1992), states the following:
The 10 cards presumably address the following issues: feeding problems, oral problems, sibling rivalry, attitudes toward parents, relationships to parents as (sexual) couples, jealousy toward same-gender parent figures, fantasies about aggression, acceptance by the adult world, fear or loneliness at night, and toileting behavior and parents' response to it. (p. 1)
The manual for CAT was revised in 1980. According to Shaffer, the manual “contains a brief history of the test; an account of its 'nature and purpose'; directions for administration; description and interpretation of anticipated responses; a few samples of stories; and a copy of the recommended recording and analysis blank.” However, the manual does not state what the developmental norms are. There is no set standard for how a typical child of each stage of development should respond. Information is not available about consistency, test retest reliability, or validity. The manual does not meet the standards that are recommended in the American Psychological Association Standards (Reinehr, 1992).
The Development of the Test
The manual for the CAT indicates that knowledge of theories of personality, ego psychology, and cognitive development must be understood to interpret the made up stories of children (Shaffer, 1980). However, there is no set restriction of who can purchase the test, administer the test, or interpret the test responses. According to Shaffer (1980), “The CAT manual avers that it 'may be profitable in the hands of the psychoanalyst, the psychiatrist, the psychologist, the social worker, and the teacher, as well as the psychologically trained pediatrician.'” The test is given in the form of a game. Each of the ten cards are presented one at a time and the child’s story is to include the past, present, and...