Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Strong (1968) predicted that the social influence theory, derived from experiments by social psychologists, would be an essential component in counseling and psychotherapy. The theory states that there are three important characteristics that one must possess when one wants another person to conform. The characteristics are (a) Attractiveness, (b) Trustworthiness, and (c) Expertness. The proposed study further investigated the social influence theory with particular attention given to the interaction between expertise and a physical disability (wheelchair or epilepsy). College students were assigned to one of six groups of a 2x3 factorial design. In this experiment the following were manipulated: The status of the therapist (Expert, Inexpert) and the Disability condition (Epileptic, Wheelchair, No Disability). The results of the study indicated that in general, the disabled therapist was not perceived more negatively than the nondisabled therapist, nor were the subjects less satisfied with his performance. In fact, the disabled therapist was rated higher than the nondisabled counterparts on the Counselor Rating Form - Short (CRF-S) (total). Only the therapist in the inexpert wheelchair conditions was rated about equal with his nondisabled counterpart. The therapist in the wheelchair condition was rated equal to the epileptic condition only if he was perceived as expert. For an uncertain reason the therapist in the epileptic condition was rate significantly more positive than the therapist in the wheelchair condition if he was portrayed as inexpert. The therapists with the most satisfactory performance were those who were portrayed as expert and disabled. These same therapists were also perceived to be more attractive to the subjects.


Thomas T. Jackson

Date of Award

Fall 1992

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1992 Henrique Braga


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