The effects of assertiveness training on self concept and locus of control among adolescents

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Burr, Kathie Kay
Schleifer, G. Scott
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The purpose of this study was to investigate under experimental conditions whether the self-concepts of adolescents could be improved through the use of assertiveness training in the classroom. Additionally, shifting of locus of control from external to internal was measured. Pioneering aspects of the present study included the use of assertiveness training as an independent variable and the presentation of a brief treatment paradigm within a normal educational setting.The twenty-eight subjects were all sophomore and junior students at the General H. H. Arnold High School. The study was conducted during the spring of 1978.An intact group, pre-test post-test design was used. The students in one classroom were used as an experimental group and the students in the other classroom were used as a control group. The two groups were demographically equivalent. Subjects in the experimental condition participated in six assertiveness training sessions over a three-week period. The assertiveness training included exercises intended to produce increased levels of insight, training in both verbal and nonverbal behavioral components of assertion, United States Military Community, Wiesbaden, West Germany and role playing in which both oppositional and commendatory assertive behaviors were practiced. Additionally, experimental subjects received training in coping with possible adverse consequences of their assertive behavior. Experimental subjects also received education in the occasional appropriateness of not asserting one's self, as well as instruction in correcting one's own errors. The appropriate receiving of assertive responses from others was also discussed and demonstrated. Subjects in the control condition viewed neutral films during the same time period as the experimental group. Both groups of subjects were debriefed by the experimenter at the end of treatment.The measures used for each subject were the Total Positive score of the Tennessee Self Concept Scale and the Rotter Internal-External Scale, which was scored in the direction of externality. Both instruments were administered as pre-test and post-test measures.The effects of the treatment were analyzed through the use of multivariate and unvaried analyses of covariance with pre-test scores serving as covariates. The two hypotheses of differences between mean treatment group scores on the Total Positive score of the Tennessee Self Concept Scale and the Rotter Internal-External Scale were first tested simultaneously using a multivariate analysis of covariance. The null hypothesis stated that there would be no difference between the treatment and control group vectors of means based on the Total Positive score of the Tennessee Self Concept Scale and the Rotter InternalExternal Scale. The multivariate F value was computed as .1770 (p <.8390). Therefore, the null hypothesis was not rejected. Subsequent computation of univariate F values also yielded statistically nonsignificant results.Under the constraints of the present study, the following conclusions were made: (1) Assertiveness training did not produce more positive self concept than did the neutral films in the control condition. (2) Assertiveness training did not produce less externality of locus of control than did the neutral films in the control condition.Implications of these findings suggest short-term assertiveness training is ineffective for modifying self-concept and locus of control, at least within the adolescent population sampled. Future research of a similar nature should therefore focus on: (1) isolating the minimal effective treatment time, (2) additional control variables such as the measurement of effectiveness of the assertiveness training methodologies with adolescent populations, (3) comparisons between the experience levels of the subjects used, and (4) the use of assertiveness training as a technique integrated into a psychotherapeutic modality rather than as a separate and distinct methodology.