Personality, Family Interaction And Help Seeking Behavior In College Students

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Personality and family pattern variables were studied in reference to their relationship with help-seeking behavior. College undergraduates were administered the Millon Behavioral Health Inventory, a health/personality measure, the Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scales, a questionnaire dealing with family interaction, and the Health Situations Survey, a self-report measure of response to illness.A moderate relationship was observed between personality type and help-seeking. Different personality configurations showed different styles of illness behavior. 'Passive-Dependent' individuals were found to seek professional help more quickly and frequently than other groups. 'Negativistic' individuals tended to ignore the symptoms of illness and chose to treat themselves as an alternative to professional care, 'Confident-Sociable' individuals were viewed as the most flexible group, basing their health-related decisions more on the actual situation than on a particular habitual style of response.Family pattern was found to have a low to moderate relationship with help-seeking. The open family system showed the lowest levels of help-seeking, while the random family system was highest on illness behavior. The family cohesion variables was successful in differentiating groups of high and low illness behavior. Those individuals low in cohesion were more likely to treat themselves, while individuals high in cohesion tended to rely more on others.No statistical interaction was found between personality and family types. However, no personality pattern was immune to the effects of an unbalanced family system. As the family type was judged more pathological, illness behavior increased for all personality types.A predictive scheme was developed from personality and family variables for discriminating between individuals in the high and low illness behavior groups. This discriminant function chose eight personality variables and successfully classified over eight per cent of the subjects in their appropriate groups.Results were discussed in terms of personality, illness behavior and differential perception of symptoms. Possible measurement and sampling problems were addressed and results re-analyzed to eliminate confounding variables. This re-analysis resulted in more clear-cut findings, especially with regard to the effects of personality type on help-seeking behavior.


Psychology, Clinical

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