Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Max Guyll

Second Advisor

David L. Vogel


Even though there is evidence that psychotherapy is an effective means of helping people with mental health concerns, it is underutilized, largely because of the stigma surrounding mental disorders and psychological help. The main purpose of this study was to examine the effects of self-affirmation--the process of affirming important personal characteristics--on stigma and other proximal indicators of psychological help-seeking. It was hypothesized that when compared to a control group, a self-affirming group would demonstrate decreased self-stigma associated with seeking help. It was also posited that the self-affirming group would experience an increase in intentions to seek counseling, willingness to seek psychological help, and counseling-related information-seeking. Participants were 84 undergraduates from Iowa State University who had scored above a clinical cut-off, thereby approximating a clinically distressed population. Differences in outcome measures associated with psychological help-seeking were examined in the context of an experimental manipulation wherein participants completed one of two timed writing tasks; participants were randomly assigned to either a self-affirming writing task (self-affirmation), or a personally irrelevant writing task (control). Results partially supported the hypotheses. Compared to the control group, the self-affirmation condition had decreased self-stigma, but there were no other significant differences.


Copyright Owner

Daniel G. Lannin



File Format


File Size

72 pages