Social Comparison and Help Seeking Attitudes: Evaluation of the Impact of Subjective and Objective Social Comparison Data on Help Seeking Attitudes
Type of Degreedissertation
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The purpose of the present study was to investigate the relationship between Festinger's (1954) theory of social comparison. Specifically, this study focused on the impact of subjective and objective data on help seeking attitudes. Participants of this study (n = 154) were asked to complete an online survey comprised of a demographics section, the Iowa-Netherlands Comparison Orientation Measure (INCOM), and the Inventory of Attitudes Toward Seeking Mental Health Services (IASMHS) scale. Between the presentation of the INCOM and IASMHS scale, participants were presented with one of four randomly assigned vignettes with specific treatment condition. The treatment conditions provided a combination of objective and subjective advice to seek or not seek mental health services. Factorial MANOVA was used to evaluate the significance of relationships between the independent variables (e.g., age, gender, ethnicity, education level, previous use of mental health services, and the vignettes) and the dependent variables: the INCOM, Upward Comparison scale, Downward Comparison scale, and the IASMHS scale with three embedded subscales (e.g., Openness, Stigma, and Help-Seeking Propensity subscales). Age was statistically significant for the INCOM, Upward comparison scale, the IASMHS scale, and the Stigma subscale. Gender was statistically significant for the IASMHS and all three subscales. Ethnicity and previous use of mental health treatment were statistically significant for the Openness subscale of the IASMHS scale. The differences between the four vignettes and education level were not statistically significant. Finally, bivariate regression was used to evaluate the predictive nature of social comparison for help-seeking attitudes and the Openness subscale was found to be significant and predicted 10.4% of help-seeking attitudes in this model. Implications of these data, limitations, and ideas for future research are presented.