OBJECT RELATIONS, INTERPERSONAL FUNCTIONING, AND HEALTH IN A NONCLINICAL SAMPLE: Construct Validation and Norms for the TAT SCORS-G

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Abstract

Applying the Social Cognition and Object Relations Scale-Global (SCORS-G; Stein, Hilsenroth, Slavin-Mumford, & Pinsker, 2011; Westen, 1995) rating method to Thematic Apperception Test (TAT; Murray, 1943) narratives, this study of undergraduates aimed to (a) assess the component structure and construct validity of the SCORS-G in a nonclinical sample and (b) contribute to the development of a set of norms to guide clinical interpretation of this method. A 2-component solution for the SCORS-G entailed cognitive and affective components. Support for construct validity came from known-groups analyses in which this nonclinical sample was healthier on all 8 scales of the SCORS-G compared with a composite of previously published clinical samples. The cognitive scales (complexity of representations of people, understanding of social causality) were particularly strong in differentiating between the nonclinical and clinical groups. Additionally, in the overall sample the affective component of the SCORS-G was positively, significantly, and meaningfully related to a self-report measure of interpersonal functioning. This association was stronger among male participants; among females, the affective component was more strongly and negatively correlated with self-reported physical symptoms. Unexpectedly, the affective component did not correlate with a self-report measure of mental health, but its correlation with a performance-based measure of mental health involved a small effect in the predicted direction. Addressing a gap in the literature, this study also contributes a set of nonclinical norms that can be used to guide clinical interpretation of the TAT SCORS-G with some patients. Theoretical and clinical implications, as well as limitations, are discussed.

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