Self-efficacy for preferred therapy as a function of emotional locus of control and personal relevance



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Texas Tech University


A counseling pretreatment study was conducted, with personal relevance (ego involvement) and emotional locus of control (ELOC; perceived origin and control of emotions) used to predict preference for type of therapy for loneliness and depression (cognitive or behavioral) and to predict self-efficacy for implementing the tasks required of the preferred therapy. Introductory psychology students' (N = 202) involvement and ELOC were assessed, and the subjects then read two descriptions of workshops. After indicating which therapy they preferred, subjects completed a self-efficacy questionnaire for the preferred therapeutic approach. Subjects were allowed to participate voluntarily in the workshop of their choice.

As expected, subjects who reported involvement in the task and who believed their feelings originated from within preferred the cognitive approach, whereas involved subjects who believed their emotions to result from environmental occurrences preferred the behavior therapy approach. Subjects who were uninvolved in the task, regardless of ELOC, did not differ in their preferences for therapy.

Contrary to the hypotheses, uninvolved subjects, compared to involved subjects, reported stronger perceived abilities to implement the tasks required of therapy, and stronger beliefs in the presumed outcome of these techniques. According to the Evaluation Likelihood Model, this can be accounted for by the uninvolved subjects' less thoughtful evaluation of the therapy descriptions. In addition, involved subjects placed a greater value on the reduction of loneliness and depression than did uninvolved subjects. Consistent with the hypotheses, involved subjects reported that they were more likely to employ the mood-control techniques than were uninvolved subjects.

Six subjects participated in the two-session cognitive therapy workshop, and five participated in the behavior therapy workshop. Three weeks after the initial data collection, there were no changes in levels of loneliness or depression in subjects who attended no workshop, whereas subjects in the cognitive workshop reported decreased depression and those in the behavior therapy workshop reported decreased loneliness.

Results are discussed in terms of the utility of assessing emotional locus of control and involvement in clients for whom type of therapy is undecided. Because clients who receive the type of therapy they prefer tend to be more successful in therapy than clients who receive a nonpreferred therapy, it may be important to provide a type of therapy that is consistent with the client's conceptualization of the disorder.



Self-perception -- Case studies, Control (Psychology) -- Case studies, Cognitive therapy -- Case studies