Changes in positive personality traits as a function of teaching encouraging transactions



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This investigation was concerned with the empirical validation of the efficacy of Adlerian methods in comparison to other psychotherapeutic approaches. The literature has been abundant in testimonial support for Adlerian methods but no empirical investigation of these techniques has been carried out. An Encouragement Laboratory based on Adlerian theory was compared to a four-week Human Interaction Training Laboratory. The goal was to develop increased self-esteem and social interest in the participants of the Encouragement Laboratory via teaching encouraging transactions. The subjects were six groups of psychiatric inpatients participating in a treatment program based on a human relations training approach. Three of the groups received training in encouraging transactions and three groups received the usual Human Interaction Training Laboratory program. Each group met daily for three one and one half hour sessions. At pre-test time all six groups were administered the Personal Beliefs Inventory (PBI), Story Test (ST), and Group Member Evaluation (GMS). On two successive days at the beginning and end of the group the subjects participated in two video tap-id. sessions. These tapes were later rated for the elements of encouragement and sense of humor by two trained judges. Participants also completed the Participation Scale (PS) daily. Statistical analysis of the experimental data showed that the experimental treatment had no measurable effect on the factors of self-esteem, hyperdependency, humanism or external conformity of the experimental group as measured by the PBI. The control group did exhibit a significant decrease in hyperdependency. There were no significant differences in scores on humor, hostile wit or resignation appreciation in the experimental or control group as measured by the ST. There was an increase in humor over both the experimental and control groups. On the GME the experimental group exhibited a significant increase in cooperative behaviors as measured by the task-maintenance factor. There was no measurable effect on the alienation factor of the experimental group. The experimental group showed a significant increase between the participation scores on the PS for the first and second weeks of the program. The judges ratings of behavior revealed no significant interaction effects. An unexpected finding was the differential dropout rate between the experimental and control groups. The dropout rate in the experimental group was 12.50% and in the control group 29.03%. The percentage of subjects dropping out for invalid reasons was 6.26% and 25.86% respectively. The results of this study were not conclusive. Overall, participants in the Encouragement Laboratory improved as mush as participants in the HITL. In addition, there was a lower dropout rate in the Encouragement Laboratory. This differential dropout rate may have been the reason for the absence of differences between the experimental and control groups. Four weeks appeared to be too short a period in which to teach encouragement because there were many skills which the participants needed to master before they could apply encouragement techniques. An Encouragement Laboratory that was longer in duration and more intense was suggested. An Encouragement Laboratory as the second phase of treatment after the participants had completed a basic program similar to the HITL was also suggested.



Psychotherapy--Evaluation, Interpersonal relations, Behavior therapy