Counselor and client, Counselors


This analogue study investigated the relationship between the "therapeugenic" (Bloom & Trautt, 1978) factors of attitude similarity and expertness on perceived trustworthiness of a confederate counselor. Several investigators have demonstrated that attitude similarity is positively related to perceived attractiveness, likeability and competence of counselors (Good, 1975; Griffitt & Byrne, 1970; Trautt, Finer & Calisher, 1980). There has been mixed support, however, for the notion that counselors who are perceived as "expert" will positively impact the counseling relationship (Brischetto & Merluzzi, 1981; Kunin & Rodin, 1982; Strong & Schmidt, 1970). The present study expanded previous research by jointly manipulating attitude similarity and perceived expertness to allow for assessment of both independent and interactive effects.

Fifty-one undergraduate students participated. Attitude similarity between "client" and "counselor" was manipulated by prescreening subjects with an attitude survey consisting of controversial topics (abortion, military spending, capital punishment, etc.). Subjects who scored in the extreme conservative or liberal range of the survey were randomly matched with a confederate counselor whose introductory biographical sketch depicted him or her as attitudinally similar or dissimilar to the subject as well as either relatively experienced/expert or inexperienced/nonexpert in the field. The Counselor Rating Form (CRF) (Lacrosse & Barak, 1976) was utilized to measure the subjects' perceptions of counselor trustworthiness.

The mini-intake interview consisted of a 10-minute meeting between confederate counselor and subject. A set of questions were formulated to approximate topic areas covered in a clinical intake interview. Each subject was interviewed by a same-sex confederate counselor. Following informed consent procedures, subjects were read a brief biographical sketch of the counselor who would be interviewing them. This sketch contained aspects of education and experience as well as community/research activities and interests conveying both the degree of "expertness" and "attitude similarity". Immediately following the simulated interview, subjects completed the CRF.

Prior to the data collection, a three-part pilot study assessed reliability and validity of the attitude survey instrument and of the interview procedures. Test-retest reliability of the attitude survey yielded an r=.94. Questions from the "mini-intake" interview were rated for level of personal intrusiveness to insure that all subjects would be asked the same proportion of personal questions during the 10-minute interview. Finally, the four biographical sketches were rated- on the expert/nonexpert, conservative/liberal attitude dimensions to check their validity as stimulus materials.

A three-way ANOVA was performed with liberal/conservative, attitude similarity, and expertness as the independent factors and perceived trustworthiness as the dependent measure. No significant main effects were obtained. Similarly, the three-way interaction was not significant. A significant two-way interaction effect was demonstrated, however, between Liberalism/Conservatism and Expertness/Nonexpertness. Specifically, conservative subjects rated the nonexpert counselors significantly higher on trustworthiness than did the liberal subjects, while liberal and conservative subjects did not differ in trustworthiness ratings of expert counselors. Results were interpreted in terms of the conservative concept of individuality and nonintervention (Monaghan, 1984). Possible implications for the counseling setting were discussed.


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Graduation Date





McGuire, John M.


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Arts and Sciences



Degree Program

Clinical Psychology




71 p.




Public Domain

Length of Campus-only Access


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Masters Thesis (Open Access)



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John M. McGuire (Q59421427)

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