counselor education, altruism, FIRO-B, MBTI


Altruism is loosely defined as a desire to help others as well as acts and behaviors towards that end, particularly when no expectation of personal gain or reward exists (Batson, Fultz, Schoenrade & Paduano, 1987). It seems likely that individuals who choose to pursue acareer in counseling might be doing so out of some altruistic interest; in other words a desire to come to the aid of others in distress. It has been noted as well that some individuals may enter the counseling profession based more on self-interest; for example, as "wounded healers" hoping to work on personal issues (Wheeler, 2002). Some researchers (Shapiro &Gabbard, 1996) hypothesize that overstated altruism may lead to burn-out and fatigue among some counselors whereas those who have limited altruism may have difficulties empathizing with clients. Despite the apparent relevance of altruism to counseling as a profession, very few studies have investigated the level of altruism among those in the field. The primary purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between altruism and personality variables in beginning counseling students. It is currently unclear to what extent altruism is a state (situational) vs. a trait (inherent). Grasping a greater sense of what constitutes altruistic behavior among beginning counseling students may benefit researchers in understanding the potential difficulties Shapiro & Gabbard (1996) suggest; i.e., burn-out, limited empathy or even self-gratification. The population in this study was 87 students entering a Master's degree in Counselor Education at a large, public institution in the Southeastern Unites States. The subjects completed the following assessments at orientation to their program: The Robinson-Heintzelman Inventory (an instrument designed to study altruism vs. self-interest in counselor education students), the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation-Behavior (FIRO-B). It was hypothesized that higher scores on altruism would correlate with the intuitive and feeling dimensions of the MBTI and low scores on wanted inclusion, wanted affection and expressed control on the FIRO-B. The hypotheses were not supported in this study; the only finding of statistical significance was the correlation between the thinking dimension of the MBTI and the total score on the RHI. Suggestions for future research are discussed.


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Graduation Date





Robinson, Edward (Mike)


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Education


Child, Family and Community Sciences

Degree Program

Counselor Education








Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)