ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

›› 2007, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (05): 892-900.

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Relationship among Attribution, Self-efficacy, Perceived Social Acceptance, and Help-seeking Behavior

Xia Mian,Jiang Guangrong   

  1. School of Psychology, Central China Normal University, Wuhan 430079, China
  • Received:2006-04-05 Revised:1900-01-01 Published:2007-09-30 Online:2007-09-30
  • Contact:

    Jiang Guangrong


Chinese people hesitate to seek professional help and hold negative attitudes toward help seeking. Earlier studies have examined various demographic, socio-cultural, and personal factors in an attempt to identify the barriers to seek help. However, recent studies have demonstrated that socio-cultural variables can explain only a relatively small amount of variance in actual help-seeking behavior. Therefore, considerable attention should be given to personal factors in order to understand help-seeking behaviors. To understand the individual’s decision-making process before help-seeking behavior, Jiang (2005) developed a Phases-Decision-Making Model (PDM). This model includes 3 phases that are involved in help-seeking decision: (1) Awareness of having psychological problems, (2) self-help evaluation, and (3) Other-help evaluation. Here, to study the actual help-seeking behavior, we used this model and examined the barriers to seek help at the third phase. We studied those individuals who were aware that they had psychological problems, recognized that they could not solve these problems effectively by themselves, and were prepared to seek help from others. In order to understand the factors that may lead to help-seeking behavior, we examined the attribution of psychological problems, self-efficacy of being a counseling client (the belief in one’s ability of being a “good” client), and perceived social acceptance of help seeking.
Three hundred and five college students (154 female, 151 male) who were aware of having psychological problems and realized that they could not solve these problems effectively by themselves (as identified by a survey) participated in the study; the first group included those who actually sought professional help (HS) and the second group included those who never did (NHS). All the participants were enrolled from 7 universities in Wuhan, China, and comprised 39.7% sophomores, 26.9% freshers, 21.6% juniors, 9.8% seniors, and 2% graduates. We used the following questionnaires to measure the 3 variables: The Questionnaire of Self-efficacy of being Counseling Client (Yu, Jiang, 2004), The Questionnaire of the Perceived Social Acceptance, and the Questionnaire of Attribution of the Mental Problem.
The results showed that the self-efficacy of being a counseling client was a significant predictor of help-seeking behavior. Higher self-efficacy led to more help seeking. Controllability predicted help seeking, in that if students perceived their psychological problems as controllable, they were less likely to seek help. The locus of attribution failed to differentiate between HS and NHS students. Perceived social acceptance of help seeking positively predicted help-seeking behavior. Those who perceived higher social acceptance of help seeking would perceive higher self-efficacy of being a counseling client, which in turn would be positively associated with help seeking.
The self-efficacy of being counseling client and perceived social acceptance were the important motivational factors that predicted help-seeking behavior in the third phase of PDM. This study supported the PDM to some extent

Key words: attribution, self-efficacy, perceived social acceptance, psychological help seeking

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