When's a story a story? Determining interpretability of Social Cognition and Object Relations Scale-Global ratings on Thematic Apperception Test narratives

Michelle B. Stein, Solara Calderon, Jared Ruchensky, Christina Massey, Jenelle Slavin-Mulford, Wei Jean Chung, Laura A. Richardson, Mark A. Blais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The Social Cognition and Object Relations Scale-Global Rating Method (SCORS-G) measures the quality of object relations in narrative material. The reliability and validity of this measure have been well established. However, a psychometric oddity of this scale is that default ratings are given to select dimensions when the relevant construct is not present. This can result in narrative ‘blandness’ and may impact clinical findings. The aim of these two studies is to understand these phenomena both psychometrically and clinically. In the first study, we identified 276 outpatients who had SCORS-G ratings for TAT Cards 1, 2, 3BM, and 14, set criteria for narrative ‘blandness’ across all eight dimensions, and examined group differences. In Study 2, we used a subset (N = 99) of Study 1 and examined how percentage of formal default ratings for Emotional Investment in Values and Moral Standards (EIM), Experience and Management of Aggressive Impulses (AGG), Self-Esteem(SE), and Identify and Coherence of Self (ICS) impacted robustness of correlations across tests of intelligence, psychopathology, and normal personality functioning. Taken together, we identified clinical characteristics of patients who are more likely to produce ‘bland’ narratives and increased percentages of formal default ratings. Also, an excess of default ratings per protocol impacts robustness of correlations and weakens significant correlations. As cut-off scores increase (>25% and >28.12%), the likelihood of being able to interpret EIM, AGG, SE, and ICS decreases. Psychometric and clinical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalClinical Psychology and Psychotherapy
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020

Keywords

  • SCORS-G
  • TAT
  • default ratings
  • object relations
  • performance-based tasks
  • social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology

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