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Twenty Statements Test (TST) and Guidelines

The TST is a long-standing psychological and social psychological "test" for use in regards to one's "sense of self." In particular, it helps indentify those self-desiginations which may be due more to our "roles" than who we really are or could be. It's very simple to administer...just ask someone to write the question, "Who am I?" at the top of a page and then have them answer it 20 times. Below are guidelines to help assess the answers given.

(Utilized and adapted from Instructor’s Manual for a unknown)

One way of becoming more self-aware is to notice the words you use to describe yourself. Some important facts about our “public selves” are revealed on the official forms we fill out, when we give our name, age, birthplace, marital status, etc. Other, more subtle aspects of our self-images are revealed in the way we introduce ourselves, or the things we choose to reveal in the first few minutes of a new acquaintance. In effect, the answers you just jotted down in response to the question “Who Am I?” provide an outline for an autobiography and give some insights about your self-image. Since an important aspect of self-image is one’s sex-role identification, your answers can also be used to probe when and under what circumstances you began to identify yourself as male or female.

The list of answers to the question “Who Am I?” probably include examples of each of the following four types of responses:

1) Physical description: I’m tall, have blue eyes...etc.

2) Social Roles: We are all social beings whose behavior is shaped to some extent by the roles we play. Such roles as student, housewife, or member of the football team not only help others to recognize us but also help us to know what is expected of us in various situations.

3) Personal Traits: These are a third dimension of our self-descriptions. “I’m impulsive...I’m generous...I tend to worry a lot”...etc.

4) Existential statements (abstract ones): These can range from "I’m a child of the universe" to "I’m a human being" to "I’m a spiritual being"...etc.

Typically young people describe themselves more in terms of such personal traits, whereas older people feel defined to a greater extent by their social roles.

To use your list to explore the process of sex-role socialization, you might do some of the following:

1) First look at your list and see how many of the personal traits and social roles you mentioned are appropriate mainly for one sex or the other.

2) Circle the traits on your list that are associated with sex-role expectations. Typically, the traits that males use to describe themselves include such adjectives as decisive, courageous, or aggressive; whereas the sex-role association process teaches younger women to identify themselves as tender, sympathetic, or caring.

3) Try to recall when you first started to define yourself in terms of such traits as these. How old were you? Can you recall who the people were who encouraged you to consider those traits important? Were there any important influences or events that taught you the importance of these traits (such as advertisements you saw, movie stars who acted in a certain way, teachers who rewarded certain behaviors, etc.)?

4) Now cross off your list the traits related to sex-role expectations. By relinquishing such traits, would you feel less secure about who you are?

5) You might want to ask others to complete the TST. Then compare the answers that different people give. Do people of certain ages seem to define themselves more or less in terms of sex-specific traits as compared with other ages? How would you explain those differences?

For another set of guidelines, see Ronda Priest's ideas.