Measurement of attitudes toward counseling : scale development

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Choi, Seong-In.
Gerstein, Lawrence H.
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Thesis (Ph. D.)
Department of Counseling Psychology and Guidance Services
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This project introduces a new measure, Beliefs and Evaluations About Counseling Scale (BEACS), based on social psychological theories of attitudes, including the Multiattribute Model of Attitudes (MMA) and the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA). Applying a MMA formula, two scales (beliefs and evaluations) linked with the BEACS were constructed. The BEACS was also designed to incorporate subjective and normative beliefs and attitudes based on the concept of social norms (SN) from the TRA. Three studies were conducted. Study 1 employed a qualitative approach to generate scale items. Forty-three college students participated. A thematic analysis led to the identification of 61 items for each of the belief and evaluation scales. Study 2 explored latent variables tied to the BEACS by administering the initial item pool to 497 college students. Results of factor analyses yielded five and six factor solutions that seemed valid. In Study 3, the five- and six-factor models were tested through a confirmatory factor analysis using an independent sample of 183 college students. It was determined that the BEACS was best represented by 28 pairs of items (beliefs & evaluations) and five factors: Expectancy for Positive Outcome, Tolerance for Negative Outcome, Tolerance for Negative Quality, Expectancy for Positive Norm, and Tolerance for Negative Norm. This factor solution was consistent with the factors tied to the Thoughts About Psychotherapy Survey. Furthermore, the BEACS Expectancy for Positive Outcome and the Expectancy for Positive Norm factors were consistent with two TRA components: general attitudes and social norms. In Study 3, support was also found for the known-group validity of the BEACS. Results revealed that women, counseling users, and people who have thought of seeking counseling scored higher on two subscales of the BEACS. Convergent and predictive validity of the BEACS was evaluated using the Beliefs About Psychological Services (BAPS). Results indicated moderate correlations between responses to the five BEACS subscales and the three BAPS subscales (Intent, Stigma Tolerance, & Expertness). Subsequent regression analyses revealed that four of the five BEACS subscales were significant predictors of the BAPS Intent factor. The BEACS was additionally found to possess high internal consistency reliability. Strengths, limitations and implications for research and practice are discussed.