Open Access Thesis
Men are diagnosed with mental illness at a similar rate to women, and men deal with similar levels of impairment (Kessler et al., 1994). Despite this impairment, men do not seek help for their mental health as often as women do (Smith et al., 2013). One reason may be that counseling is seen as feminine. In this thesis, I describe an experimental study that examined the effect of using masculine attributes to describe counseling services on men’s attitudes. Adult male participants ages 18 to 35 (N = 818) read a short story that featured a conversation with a friend that described counseling services as courageous, as a path to success, or neutrally and imagined themselves in that situation. Participants then indicated how likely they would be to call the counseling center and their attitudes toward seeking mental health services and completed an adherence to traditional masculinity measure and a gender role conflict measure. I hypothesized that the participants who read the short stories where counseling is described as “courageous” or “leading to success” would have more positive attitudes toward seeking help compared to men who read a short story with a more neutral or traditional view of counseling. I also hypothesized that gender role conflict and traditional masculinity would moderate the effect of the short story on men’s attitudes toward seeking help. Men who read the courageous or success short stories did not report more positive attitudes toward mental health services compared to men who read the neutral short story. Similarly, men who read the courageous or success short story were not more likely to call the counseling center compared to men who read the neutral short story. Strong adherence to traditional masculinity ideology and more gender role conflict were associated with more negative attitudes toward seeking help; however, traditional masculinity ideology and gender role conflict did not moderate the effect of the counseling descriptions on attitudes toward mental health services across conditions.The lack of an effect for the counseling frames could be the result of a very small effect size or not enough changes to the description of counseling.Because the participants self-reported their attitudes after reading a fictional scenario that they may have never been in, it is also possible that participants would respond differently if they were actually in the situation. In conclusion,the use of masculine attributes to describe counseling services did not seem to have an effect on men’s attitudes.There was also no evidence of a negative effect of using masculine attributes, however, suggesting that it may be useful as a low-cost method to try to make some men slightly more comfortable with therapy.
Year of Submission
Master of Arts
Department of Psychology
Helen C. Harton, Chair, Thesis Committee
1 PDF file (ix, 80 pages)
©2021 Riley Nicholas Rodemaker
Rodemaker, Riley Nicholas, "Redefining what's manly: Using masculine attributes to describe counseling services for men" (2021). Dissertations and Theses @ UNI. 1090.