Thematic stories of sexually abused boys: A study of social cognition and object relations

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

First Committee Member

Donald K. Routh, Committee Chair


The present study assessed several dimensions of social cognition and object relations from the thematic stories of sexually abused and non-abused clinical and normal controls. Thematic stories were obtained with the Roberts Apperception Test for Children and were scored using Westen's Social Cognition and Object Relations Scale. The overall pattern of findings suggests that sexually abused boys are distinguished from clinical and normal controls by more malevolent expectations and grossly illogical attributional biases. Overall, abused boys also produced more pathological responses than their non-abused controls, suggesting impairments that are not only statistically significant but also clinically relevant. These findings were independent of any contribution of age, intelligence, word productivity, and behavior problems. Theoretical, diagnostic, and treatment implications are discussed.


Psychology, Social; Psychology, Developmental; Psychology, Clinical; Psychology, Cognitive

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