Structure and Functions of Fantasy

By Eric Klinger | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 11
Fantasy and Overt Behavior

One of the questions of greatest interest in the field of fantasy concerns the reciprocal effects of fantasy and overt behavior. The previous three chapters deal with questions concerning the effects of instrumental response sequences on the thematic content of fantasy, and Chapter 7 touches on the effects of fantasy on creativity. However, there are other kinds of questions, which concern the relationship between an individual's typical pattern of fantasy -- its frequency, form, and content -- and his typical pattern of overt behavior. This class of questions is more macroscopic than those considered previously, for it deals not with moment-to-moment or segment-to-segment relationships, but with interrelationships among enduring individual dispositions. Furthermore, it has been of greatest interest not to students of fantasy as such but to investigators of motivation, personality, and psychodiagnosis. A great many such studies have been published during the past thirty years, especially during the 1950's, but the basic questions remain substantially unanswered.

The focus of the present book is on fantasy. The large volume of research that attempts to link fantasy patterns to patterns of overt behavior has shed relatively little light on the nature of fantasy itself. Since much of the evidence accumulated about the TAT is uninterpretable or of peripheral interest for purposes of developing a theory of fantasy, no attempt is made here to review the TAT area comprehensively. Much of the TAT literature concerns the validity of the TAT as a test, and a significant portion investigates gross psychodiagnostic relationships or other correlational evidence which is inapplicable to our present purposes. Competent general reviews of research on the TAT already exist, ranging from an extensive "interpretive lexicon for clinician and investigator" ( Lindzey, Bradford, Tejessy, and Davids, 1959) to critical reviews and summaries ( Murstein, 1963b; Rosenwald, 1968; Zubin, Eron, and Schumer, 1965). There is also a valuable symposium on general issues in the field ( Kagan and Lesser, 1961). The most extensive programs of research have been directed at TAT achievement fantasy, which, with occasional offshoots into affiliative

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