Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Michael Nash

Committee Members

Heather Hirschfeld, Timothy Hulsey, Garriy Shteynberg


This study examined whether computerized text analysis of Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) protocols could differentiate patients operating at neurotic, borderline, and psychotic levels of personality organization (LPO). From a large University psychological clinic archival database, I identified fifty-­‐two (N = 52) patients whose files: a) contained verbatim TAT responses; and b) included diagnosis indicative of neurotic, borderline, or psychotic LPO. Verbatim TAT transcriptions were input and analyzed using Linguistic Inquiry Word Count (LIWC) software. I hypothesized that 1) The use of cognitive words would be more common among the TAT protocols of the neurotic patients than among the protocols of the borderline and psychotic patients; 2) the use of negative emotion words and negation words would be more prominent among the psychotic and borderline patient protocols than among the neurotic patients. A limited number of psychotic protocols meeting selection criteria required me to eliminate the psychosis category in the analysis; however, the results of one-­‐way ANOVA found that the neurotic group used cognitive words during TAT administration at a significantly higher rate than did the borderline group. The effect size for this difference was moderate to large.

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