Effects of interpersonal touch on client perceptions of counselor credibility and attractiveness

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1980
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Shirley, Ralph
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Psychology
The Department of Psychology may prepare students with a liberal study, or for work in academia or professional education for law or health-services. Graduates will be able to apply the scientific method to human behavior and mental processes, as well as have ample knowledge of psychological theory and method.
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In an attempt to provide some data concerning the effects of interpersonal touch in a counseling setting not available from earlier work, the present investigation explored the effects of various levels of touch on client perceptions of counselor credibility and attractiveness. A completely randomized 2 x 2 x 2 x 4 partial hierarchical design was employed. The four fixed effect factors were counselor sex, subject sex, individual counselor, and touch manipulation (four levels). Eighty male and 80 female Caucasian American undergraduates served as subjects. The dependent variables were perceived counselor expertness, attractiveness and trustworthiness as measured by the Counselor Rating Form. Results indicated (a) the Counselor Rating Form is a reliable instrument, (b) a significant main effect for the sex of the counselor such that males were perceived more favorably than females, and, (c) a significant main effect for the individual counselor. The major hypothesis put forward in the introduction, that the presence of interpersonal touch would enhance client perceptions of counselor credibility and attractiveness, was not supported. The touch manipulation did, however, enter into interaction effects, but only on the dimension of perceived counselor expertness. The results are discussed in terms of their theoretical and practical implications for counseling and future research.

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Tue Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 1980