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Personality: Self concept · Personality testing · Theories · Mind-body problem

The Twenty Statements Test (or TST) is an instrument used to measure self concept.  It was devised in 1954 by Manfred Kuhn & Thomas McPartland, with the aim of finding a standardised way to measure assumptions and self-attitudes. 

Test Structure[]

The test takes the form of a survey, with respondents asked to give up to twenty responses to the prompts, "Who am I?" or "I am..."; it is not mandatory that respondents give twenty answers.  The test usually only takes a few minutes.

The test is unusual in utilising an open-question methodology, making coding non-straighforward.  Kuhn (1960) has stated that responses to the twenty statements test should be grouped into five categories:

  • Social groups and classifications
  • Ideological beliefs
  • Interests
  • Ambitions
  • Self-evaluations. 

Uses and criticism[]

The TST has been been helpful in providing an scientific means to investigate the concept of self within social psychology.  Kuhn (1960) has found that the responses in the five coding categories varied in frequency depending on the age, sex and profession of respondents.   More recently, Grace and Cramer (2002) found no gender differences in sense of self, using TST.

However, Franklin and Kohout (1971) have argued that the five-category method of coding results in subjectivity, as the researcher codes responses using a set of a priori categories.


Franklin, B.J. and Kohout, F.J. (1971) Subject-Coded Versus Researcher-Coded TST Protocols: Some Methodological Implications.  Sociological Quarterly, 12, 82-89.

Grace, S.L. and Kramer, K.L. (2002).  Sense of self in the new millennium: Male and female student responses to TST.  Social Behaviour and Personality, 30(3), 271-280.

Kuhn, Manford H. (1960).  Self-Attitudes by Age, Sex and Professional Training.  Sociological Quarterly, 1(1), 39-56.

Kuhn, M.H. and McPartland, T.S. (1954).  An empirical investigation of self-attitudes.  American Sociological Review, 19(1), 68-76.