Date of Award

Winter 3-20-2020

Document Type

Honors Project

University Scholars Director

Dr. Christine Chaney

First Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Brittany Tausen

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Paul Kim

Keywords

visual perspective, mental imagery, help-seeking, social stigma, counseling, psychological help

Abstract

Individuals living with mental health conditions may run into myriad cognitive barriers increasing hesitations in seeking professional psychological help. The current research explores the potential for mental imagery to be utilized as a cognitive tool to enhance intentions towards seeking psychological help via shifts in imagined visual perspective. Participants (N = 129) were randomly assigned to either a first- or third-person visual perspective before engaging in a guided mental imagery task. Participants were asked to imagine having an emotional or personal issue that they could not solve on their own and walking into the Counselling Center on campus to set up an initial counseling appointment. Following this task, participants completed the General Help Seeking Questionnaire and the Stigma Scale for Receiving Psychological Help. It was hypothesized that a) individuals with less social stigma will have greater intentions to seek help from a mental health professional, b) adopting a third-person perspective will result in stronger behavioral intentions to seek professional psychological help, and c) the effect of visual perspective on help-seeking intentions will be moderated by the social stigma an individual associates with help-seeking. Moderation analyses demonstrated that when adopting a third-person perspective, help-seeking intentions were not affected by social stigma. When adopting a first-person perspective, however, help-seeking intentions were dependent upon social stigma level. On average, a third-person perspective might be recommended for individuals experiencing psychological distress; however, individuals with low amounts of social stigma might benefit from an adoption of a first-person perspective due to the benefits it has in action-orientation and symptomatic identification.

Comments

A project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the University Scholars Honors Program.

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