Date of Award:

1976

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Psychology

Advisor/Chair:

William R. Dobson

Abstract

The strengths enhancement training program was developed and evaluated in order to determine empirically if a group method designed specific ally to assist subjects in the identification of personal strengths, resources, and potentials, would be effective in broadening their perceptions of themselves in a positive direction.

The strengths enhancement training program was based primarily on the work of Herbert A. Otto, using the Multiple Strengths Perception method as the central component of the training program. That method was pilot tested, and program modifications were made on two occasions.

A pretest-posttest control group design was used to assess the 80 Introductory Psychology volunteers. Twenty-eight subjects were randomly assigned to the strengths enhancement condition, 24 students to the discussion group control condition, and 28 students to the no treatment control condition.

The students who were assigned to the strengths enhancement condition and the discussion group control condition met in small groups, three groups for each condition. The subgroups in both conditions met for eight weekly sessions of one and a half hours duration.

The strengths enhancement training was the independent variable. Self-concept (as measured by the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale) and self-perception (as measured by the Personal Orientation Inventory) were the dependent variables.

The format of the discussion group control condition was patterned after a class taught at Utah State University, Psychology 121 (Issues in Human Relations). Principles of effective human relationship, including trust, self-disclosure, and listening skills, were presented to subjects as a discussion stimulus at the beginning of each weekly group session. The Psychology 121 course content was based on self-actualization theory.

Analysis of covariance results indicated that students who participated in the strengths enhancement training condition scored significantly higher (. 05 level) than students in the no treatment control condition on the Total Positive Score of the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale. Results did not appear to be influenced by defensive distortions or students' tendencies to over-affirm their positive attributes on the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale.

Subjects in the discussion group control condition scored higher on 10 of the 12 Personal Orientation Inventory scales than subjects in the other condition, with significance occurring on the Inner-directed scale (.10 level) and the Self-acceptance scale (.025 level). Data suggest that students in the discussion control condition did not attempt to fake a good impression or present a pseudo-self-actualization profile on the Personal Orientation Inventory.

The strengths enhancement training program was effective in modifying participants' self-concepts (as measured by the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale), but no differences were evident on the self-perception measures of the Personal Orientation Inventory. The variables which contribute to self-concept and self-actualization do not appear to be highly related.

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