Sex, physical attractiveness, attitude similarity, and the attributions of counseling students

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Lee, Roger Timothy
Hutchinson, Roger L.
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Thesis (Ph. D.)
Department of Counseling Psychology and Guidance Services
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The purpose of the study was to determine the effects of sex, physical attractiveness, and attitude similarity on the attributions of counseling students for the supposed adjustment problem of a bogus stimulus person presented as having failed to benefit from a counseling experience. Attributions were measured along dimensions of locus of causality (internal-external), stability (stable-unstable), and controllability (controllable-uncontrollable).Many previous studies have investigated various aspects of sex, physical attractiveness, and/or attitudes in relation to interpersonal attraction, but this study attempted to examine all three in the context of an applied counseling setting.The subjects were 70 female and 25 male volunteers, who were enrolled in graduate and upper-level undergraduate courses in Counseling Psychology at Ball State University and at Governors State University.The dependent variable measure was the Causal Dimension Scale, composed of three subscales which measure locus of causality, stability, and controllability. The Student Attribution Survey served as a source of eight covariate measures, with two scores, one each for positive events and negative events, for the four attributional dimensions of ability, effort, luck, and task difficulty. The Brief Measure of Activism, Regarding the Nuclear Arms Race was used to ascertain subjects' attitudes toward this issue and to determine whether they were attitude similar or dissimilar to the stimulus person.The study was designed as a 2 X 2 X 2 full factorial with two levels of sex (male-female), two levels of physical attractiveness (attractive-unattractive), and two levels of attitude similarity (similar-dissimilar). The data was analyzed via a multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA). Results at or below the .05 level of significance were considered available for interpretation.The results revealed that only the main effect for attitude similarity was significant. Subjects who read a description of an attitude similar stimulus person viewed the person's problem as external, stable, and uncontrollable, attributing it to task difficulty. Subjects who read a description of an attitude dissimilar stimulus person viewed the problem as internal, unstable, and controllable, attributing it to effort.