Ethnic stimuli of the Roberts apperception test for children : a sociolinguistic analysis

Limited research exists in the cross-cultural assessment of personality. Standard personality tests tend not to provide culturally congruent material; thematic material portraying only Anglo characters is often used for members of other cultures and/or ethnic groups. The validity of these tests in such circumstances has repeatedly been questioned. The present study is an attempt to remedy this situation through the use of sociolinguistic analysis. It deals with the speech patterns of some Black children and adolescents who were administered the Black and White series of a test (Roberts Apperception Test For Children) which aims at discovering whether or not subjects identify more with stimulus material depicting their own ethnicity. The first chapter provides a historical examination of thematic apperception tests from early techniques to the recently developed Roberts Apperception Test For Children (RATC), one of the few tests to provide culturally congruent stimuli for Black Americans. It is followed by a discussion of previous research relating to test administration cross-culturally. The next section consists of a description of selected features of the Black English Vernacular (BEV), as well as a summary of previous sociolinguistic findings which show correlations between the use of BEV on the one hand, familiarity and/or identification with an individual or ethnic group on the other hand. In this study forty-eight Black children and adolescents divided into four equal groups were administered either the Black or White series of the RATC, then the opposite series four weeks later. The verbal responses were analyzed statistically (AN OVA) and qualitatively for occurrences of BEV and features associated with colloquial speech. A tendency emerged towards an increased use of BEV and colloquial features by the child subjects when the Black test series was administered, compared to the White series. A statistically significant increase in the use of BEV and features associated with colloquial speech by the adolescent subjects was also found (0.05 level) when they were administered the Black series, compared to the White series. These sociolinguistic findings clearly indicate that Black children and adolescents do tend to identify more with the Black series of the RATC than they do with the White series. One might therefore consider generalizing the use of such cross-cultural test material in the evaluation of people from different cultures and ethnic groups.