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The Twenty Statements Test (TST)

The Twenty Statements Test (TST) is a well-known instrument that is widely used to measure self-concept. The TST was originally developed in the 1950s by social psychologist Manfred Kuhn as a way of determining the degree to which we base our self-concepts on our membership in different groups (Kuhn and McPartland 1954). Group affiliation proved to be a significant and prevalent quality that defined Americans of the 1950s and 1960s. In the following decades, the TST was adopted by other researchers for its ease of use and ability to provide direct firsthand data from respondents. Despite some methodological critiques, the TST has been used to examine the self-concept of members of various ethnic, gender, and generational groups, as well as to make cross-cultural comparisons (Carpenter and Meade-Pruitt 2008).

In some of the earliest and most influential work using the TST, Louis Zurcher (1977) studied the changing self-images of Americans in the 1970s and 1980s. Zurcher found that respondents in this later group were more likely to base their self-concept on individual traits and independent action rather than on group membership. These results represented a major shift in how people defined themselves and, perhaps, in society as a whole. Zurcher and his colleague Ralph Turner (1976) became concerned about this shift away from group identification and toward a more radically individualistic sense of self. Why were they so concerned? We might also ask, what are people like now? Have things continued to change since the 1980s? What can the TST tell us about contemporary society and ourselves today?

To Do

Write down twenty different responses to the question “Who am I?” Don’t worry about evaluating the logic or importance of your responses—just write the statements quickly and in whatever order they occur to you. Give yourself five minutes to complete this task.
Score your responses according to the four categories on the response sheet. Do no peak at the response sheet before you take the exam.
Count the number of each type of response and provide the totals for each mode.