Thematic Apperception

In the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), the respondents are shown one or more pictures and asked to describe what is happening, what dialogue might be carried on between characters and/or how the "story" might continue. For this reason, TAT is also known as the picture interpretation technique. (click to view an example)

Although the picture, illustration, drawing or cartoon that is used must be interesting enough to encourage discussion, it should be vague enough not to immediately give away what the project is about.

TAT can be used in a variety of ways, from eliciting qualities associated with different products to perceptions about the kind of people that might use certain products or services.

For instance, respondents were shown a schematic logo (click here) and asked what type of destination would have such a logo, and what a visitor might expect to find. Some of the comments were:

  • That makes me think of the garden.
  • It is the city in the country, very much so.
  • It looks like New York, with the Empire State Building right there.
  • Calming, relaxing. There's a tree there so you can see the country-side and you've got the background with the city and the buildings, so it's a regional focus.

Related Readings (Kumar, V., Aaker, D.A. & Day, G.S. (1999). Essentials of Marketing Research. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; Zikmund, W.G. (1997). Exploring Marketing Research, 6th edition. Orlando: The Dryden Press)