Tell-Me-a-Story 

Purpose:  Developed to identify strengths and deficits in cognitive, affective, intrapersonal and interpersonal functioning.

Population:  ages 5 to 18

Scales:  Quantitative Scales (Cognitive Functions, Personality Functions, Affective Functions), Qualitative Indicators (Affective Functions, Cognitive Functions)

Time:  45-60 minutes (short form); 120 minutes (long form)

Author:  Giuseppe Constantino, Robert G. Malgady, and Lloyd H. Rogler

Publisher:  Western Psychological Services

Description:  The Tell-Me-a-Story (TEMAS) is a multicultural thematic apperception test designed for use with minority and non-minority children and adolescents with a set of stimulus cards and extensive normative data for each group.  The stimulus card are structured to elicit specific responses, and are in color to facilitate verbalization and projection of emotional states.  It differs from the TAT in that 1) it focuses on personality functions as manifested in internalized interpersonal relationships rather than on intrapsychic dynamics, 2) the TEMAS consists of 23 chromatic pictures while the TAT has 19 achromatic pictures and one bland card, 3) TEMAS attempts to elicit meaningful stories indicating conflict resolutions of bipolar personality functions, while the TAT uses ambiguous stimuli to elicit meaningful stories, 4) The TEMAS stimuli represent the polarities of negative and positive emotions cognitions and interpersonal functions, while the TAT is primarily weighted to represent negative emotions, depressive mood, and hostility.  The TEMAS stimulus cards are culturally relevant, gender sensitive, and have diminished ambiguity.

Scoring:  The children’s stories are scored in the record booklet using specific criteria representative of cognitive, affective and intrapersonal and interpersonal functioning.  The scales and functions scored are Quantitative Scales (Cognitive Functions [Reaction Time, Total Time, Fluency, Total Omissions], Personality Functions [Interpersonal Relations, Aggression, Anxiety-Depression, Achievement Motivation, Delay of Gratification, Self-Concept, Sexual Identity, Moral Judgment, Reality Testing], Affective Functions [Happy, Sad, Angry, Fearful]), Qualitative Indicators (Affective Functions [Neutral, Ambivalent, Inappropriate Affect], Cognitive Functions [Conflict, Sequencing, Imagination, Relationships, Total Transformations, Inquiries, Omissions and Transformations scores for each of the following: Main Character, Secondary Character, Event, Setting]).

Reliability:  Internal consistency reliability estimates were reported by the manual for the 34 functions (Cognitive, Personality, and Affective) suggested by the authors. The Cronbach's alpha ranged from .31 to .98 with half below an acceptable level (.70), even for projective tests. Test-retest reliabilities were low where the highest function correlation was r = .53 and 26 of the 34 functions showed correlations near zero. Because the interrater reliabilities were typically moderate to high, the test-retest correlations suggest an extremely situational nature to this instrument. The functions proposed by the authors might vary with time, but should be more stable within individuals than illustrated by the test-retest data reported. One reviewer’s conclusion is that the TEMAS does not measure the constructs it proposes to measure, or does so with a large proportion of each score attributable to error.  However, establishing reliability and subsequent validity has been a common problem for projective testing in general.

Validity:  The TEMAS manual implies criterion-related validity using a rather complex regression analysis that concludes 6 to 22% of the variance of therapeutic outcomes is predicted using four standardized measures and four ratings of graduate students as criteria.  The analysis reported is not sufficient evidence to conclude that correlational validity has been established.  In independent research, the verbal responses of Hispanic children were greater to the TEMAS than to the TAT, however there is a lack of differential effectiveness of the minority cards. Additionally, greater verbal response does not necessarily indicate that the scores for Black or Hispanic students were more valid measures of personality than the scores that might have been obtained on the TAT. The TEMAS is based on a reasonable premise (i.e., existing projective techniques may be culturally insensitive) and the measure has promising construct related validity, but it has not yet established criterion-related validity and has yet to show that it is better than the TAT or similar measures at assessing the personality characteristics of minority children. The well-established TAT is still the suggested standard for thematic projective investigations. The reliability of the TEMAS is not acceptable when estimated with both internal consistency and test-retest methods. The TEMAS is not an improvement over other projective tests and may have poorer psychometric properties than existing measures. The TEMAS cards may be useful for research purposes so direct comparisons to the TAT and other personality instruments are encouraged. Clinical or predictive uses of the TEMAS are still questionable and caution is recommended, even when minority children are the clients.

Norms:  The normative sample included 2,000 individuals ages 11 to  85+ years, spanned   The sample was representative of the US population census for gender, socioeconomic status (examinee or parental education levels),  and race or ethnic group.

Suggested use:  The TEMAS is of clinical use to better understand the cognitive, affective and personality functions, give problem-specific information in order to develop a more accurate treatment plan, to assess therapeutic progress and outcome.