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Ambiguity and Verbal Fluency in the TAT

Aron Wolfe Siegman and Benjamin Pope

15 TAT cards, divided into low-, medium- and high-ambiguity groups, were administered to 30 female nursing students.  Stimulus ambiguity, defined in terms of variability of themes evoked by a given card, was found to be associated with hesitant and disrupted speech ("ah's," a slow articulation rate, a  long reaction time, and speech disturbances).  These findings are explained in terms of the mediating role of uncertainty on speech.  An adaptation effect was noted.  The later, as opposed to the earlier stories, are associated with a longer reaction time, but fewer "ah's," less silence, and a quicker articulation rate.  Finally, significant differences are noted between Ss' verbal fluency indexes, based on all 15 cards and thus independent of stimulus ambiguity, and verbal fluency indexes obtained in an interview situation.  These differences are discussed in terms of monological versus dialogical speech.
Siegman, A. & B. Pope 1966 Ambiguity and Verbal Fluency in the TAT. In Journal of Consulting Psychology 30/3: 239-245.

Key points relevant to the study of filled pauses


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