Date of Award

8-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Anson Long

Second Advisor

Derek Hatfield

Third Advisor

John A. Mills

Abstract

A strong body of social psychology literature indicates that I-sharing, or the perception that one has shared an identical subjective experience with another person, contributes to increased feelings of connectedness, liking, and prosocial behavior in relationships (Pinel & Long, 2012). Recent theorizing suggests that I-sharing may be of clinical utility as a tool to support the development of the therapeutic alliance (Pinel, Bernecker, & Rampy, 2015). This study serves as an experimental follow-up to that paper and explores the impact of an in-vivo I-sharing manipulation on ratings of therapeutic alliance, liking, perceptions of therapy, helping behavior, and existential isolation following a brief simulated clinical interview. Forty-two students enrolled in an introductory psychology course at a midsize university in Western Pennsylvania volunteered to participate in the research. Participants were randomly assigned to an I-sharing or no I-sharing condition, where I-sharing was operationalized using an in-vivo modification of the Ink Blot task utilized in Huneke & Pinel’s (2016) previous I-sharing research. Following completion of the task, participants engaged in a brief interview to simulate a clinical encounter. Videos of the interviews were reviewed to assess for consistency in the interviewer’s behavior between study conditions. Significant differences in ratings of liking and helping behavior emerged, such that individuals in the no I-sharing condition rated the interviewer as more likeable and were more willing to engage in helping behavior than those in the I-sharing condition. Video review showed significant differences in ratings of the interviewer’s behavior between conditions, where the interviewer was perceived more favorably in the no I-sharing condition. Though no differences in ratings of the therapeutic alliance or perceptions of therapy emerged, there was a significant decrease in existential isolation from pre-interview to post-interview, and ancillary analyses revealed gender differences in baseline levels of existential isolation. Existential isolation was found to be a marginally significant predictor of ratings of the therapeutic alliance, which is consistent with recent findings on the negative relationship between existential isolation and attitudes regarding psychotherapy (Constantino, Sommer, Goodwin, Coyne, & Pinel, 2019). The results of this study are discussed within the context of informing clinical practice and bridging social and clinical psychology research.

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