Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology



First Advisor

Lawrence Grebstein


While extensive attention has been paid to the theoretical parameters of the concept of transference,

there has been little experimental investigation of this psychoanalytic concept. The present study is an attempt to investigate transference in an empirical and normative fashion and to develop a means of measurement which may provide the basis for extensive further exploration of this central psychotherapeutic concept.

In this study, measurement and operationalization of transference phenomena is undertaken through the combined innovative use of two isomorphic interpersonal inventories, the Interpersonal Behavior Inventory (Lorr and McNair, 1967) and the Impact Message Inventory (Kiesler et al, 1976) by which early childhood perceptions of parental figures and perceptions of a stimulus therapist (in this case, on videotape) can be compared.

The hypotheses addressed by this experiment are summarized as follows: 1) There is variability in subjects' perceptions of the interpersonal and interactional style of a stimulus therapist; 2) This variability is related to the perceived interpersonal style of one of the subject's parents when the subject was between the ages of 0 and 7; and, 3) Individuals with parents perceived as having had "extreme" interpersonal styles during the subject's early childhood have more "extreme" interpersor1al perceptions of a present stimulus therapist.

Results of tests of the above hypotheses revealed that there was variability in individuals' perceptions of a constant stimulus therapist on videotape and that these perceptions could in fact be seen as related to perceptions of parer1tal interpersonal behavior. While canonical correlation analyses seemed to mask this relationship, when an ipsative method of profile correlation (AVA profile analysis) was used, it was found that there was a high degree of correlation between the perceived interpersonal profiles of one of the subjects' parents and the perceived interpersonal profile of the stimulus therapist. These results suggest that transference phenomena may be most appropriately measured using ipsative approaches and calls for further exploration of such techniques. Finally, this study also found that individuals who perceived one of their parents as having had an "extreme” interpersonal style (particularly in the areas of hostility and dominance) also perceived the stimulus therapist as more interpersonally "extreme".



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