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Title:Examining the decision to seek professional psychological help: A comparison of attribution and attitude theory in predicting help-seeking intention using the theory of reasoned action
Author(s):Howland, Mele Jeanne
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Harmon, Lenore W.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Guidance and Counseling
Psychology, Clinical
Abstract:The proficiency of attribution and attitude theories in predicting helpseeking intention for those experiencing problems of depression and adjustment was examined using the framework provided by the Theory of Reasoned Action. The intention to perform a behavior is hypothesized to be determined by two influences--the attitude toward performing the behavior and the social norm perceived from significant others about performing the behavior or not. These influences develop from a set of beliefs that an individual holds about the outcomes of performing the behavior. Any additional variables are conceptualized as external to the model and thought to influence intention indirectly, through beliefs, attitude, and/or social norm). In this study, blame for problems (an attribution) and three characteristics of the helpseeker, distress level, sex, and past counseling experience, were external variables. The factors which predicted intention and the manner in which variables influenced the decision to seek help were identified and the responses of groups expressing differential intentions were compared.
A sample of 180 undergraduates were administered inventories assessing their perceptions of helpseeking, style of blame, and distress level. In the analyses, two attitude factors were found; one, a generalized attitude toward helpseeking, and the other an affective response, reflecting how comfortable or unpleasant performance of the behavior was perceived to be. More discomfort was associated with seeking help for the problem of adjustment than for the problem of depression. Both attitude factors and social norm were found to predict helpseeking intention. The external variables did not predict intention, with the exception of past counseling, which was significant if one was experiencing a problem of depression.
The beliefs about the positive and negative outcomes of seeking help were rated as to the probability and desirability of their occurrence. Differences were found between the responses of groups which were contrasted--Intenders and Nonintenders, and males and females. Intenders believed that obtaining help would result in positive outcomes that they desired, with little likelihood that negative outcomes would result more than did Nonintenders. Females perceived that the positive outcomes of seeking help were much more desirable than males did.
Issue Date:1996
Rights Information:Copyright 1996 Howland, Mele Jeanne
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9712313
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9712313

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