Credibility of treatment rationales as a function of presenting complaint, rationale style, and personality characteristics



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Previous research has pointed to the importance of a patient's expectancy of relief in psychological as well as medical interventions. Studies of relative efficacy of various psychological treatments have frequently failed to control adequately for these effects. One aspect of credibility is rationale. The present study examines the credibility of four interventions across three common targets of intervention. In addition, the rationales were presented in either a technical, impersonal style or a literary, metaphorical style. The study was conducted as a 4X3X2 (style) X 2 (gender) X 2 (order) ANOVA. Rated credibility of the various conditions was expected to depend on the personality/cognitive style of the recipient. Scores on measures of cerebral dominance and locus of control were entered as vectors in a multiple regression equation, as were their interactions with the ANOVA conditions. The hypothesis of enhanced credibility for rationales that are congruent with a recipient's cognitive style or beliefs regarding personal control was not supported. While the overall effect of presentation style was not significant, there was a significant interaction with treatment modality. The bulk of this variance was contributed by the differential credibility of the psychoanalytic rationales. Psychoanalytic treatments were perceived as more credible when presented in a scientific verses a literary style. Possible explanations for the effects observed are presented, as are implications of the findings for further research. [...]



Psychotherapy--Evaluation, Psychotherapy patients