An analysis of a didactic approach to assertion training compared to a behavioral approach to assertion training

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Schneider, Charles M.
Shapiro, Joseph B.
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Thesis (D. Ed.)
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The purpose of this study was to determine if a didactic approach to assertion training (AT) that focused on cognitive skills was as effective as a behavioral approach to assertion training in a study population of overweight women who resided in an American military community in Germany. The study sought to determine if the two approaches differed statistically significantly in effecting decrease in degree of discomfort and increase in response probability of making an assertive response when in a stressful interpersonal situation.A review of assertive literature reflected a preponderance of studies that utilized college students, psychiatric in-patients or hospitalized patients as subject populations. Thus, a non-college and non-psychiatric in-patient population of overweight women, depicted in the literature as non-assertive and unhappy, was selected as the study's population.The 23 subjects were volunteers from self-help weight loss groups who professed difficulty in their dieting efforts. The subjects were randomly assigned to either the didactic approach group or the behavioral approach group.The didactic approach to AT focused on the cognitive aspects of AT with little interaction or overt involvement on the part of the subject. The behavioral approach to AT utilized the behavior therapy techniques of rehearsal, role play, practice, modeling, and combinations thereof with active participation on the part of the subject.The design of the study was a two factor mixed design with repeated measures on one factor (pre- and post-test scores). The dependent variables in the study were the scores on the measures of degree of discomfort and response probability on the Gambrill and Richey Assertion Inventory (GRAI), a self-report measure of assertive behavior.Difference of means t tests disclosed no statistically significant differences for pre-test scores on the GRAI or demographic data measures between the two groups. A repeated measures analysis of variance was computed for both degree of discomfort and response probability measures; there were no statistically significant differences between the groups at the .05 level of acceptance. However, statistical significance was found at the .01 level for trials on both measures.The conclusion reached was that since the two approaches did not differ statistically significantly in outcome measures there was no real difference between the two approaches to AT. The findings of statistical significance on trials reflects that both approaches increased assertiveness at a greater than chance level of confidence. The success of the didactic approach offered support for concluding that one can learn or change psychologically while only sitting, looking, and listening.Implications of the study include: (1) the behavioral approach to AT need not be the only presentation method to effect assertive change in the subject and (2) a didactic approach to AT or other aspects of human behavior may be of importance in that the method allows for larger groups of subjects and therefore, a more efficient use of therapeutic time and resources. In addition, (3) do we often place too much emphasis on the need for the individual to be involved or "active" in our processes to reflect or demonstrate internal change?Recommendations for possible replication of this study included:Include a third treatment group that utilizes a cognitive-behavioral approach to further investigate the cognitive aspects of the treatment. 2. If a similar population is used, obtain three and six month post treatment data relative to assertiveness and weight loss to test treatment effectiveness over extended periods of time. 3. Include an IN VIVO assertive experience to investigate if the didactic approach effectively transfers to real life situations.