Development of the Help-Seeker Stereotype Scale

Hammer, Joseph
Major Professor
David L. Vogel
Committee Member
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The factor structure, reliability, and validity of the Help-Seeker Stereotype Scale (HSSS), an instrument measuring the strength of respondents' endorsement of negative stereotypes about people who seek help from a psychologist, was explored over the course of three studies. In Study 1, 50 items designed to capture negative, self-esteem harming stereotypes of help seekers were generated. Pilot testing and expert feedback led to a revised item pool of 30 items, which were administered to 587 college students enrolled at a large Midwestern University. A series of initial Exploratory Factor Analyses (EFAs) led to the identification of a two-factor structure and selection of six items for each of the two subscales, entitled Deficient and Unstable. Study 2 used follow-up EFAs on one half (n = 297) of a large, randomly split college student sample to provide further support for the anticipated two-factor structure and allow the trimming of problematic items, which resulted in the establishment of the final version of the HSSS. The factor structure of this final version was then explored via Confirmatory Factor Analysis in the other half (n = 297) of the sample, leading to the identification of a model that best captured the covariance of the HSSS items: a bifactor model. The HSSS total score demonstrated sufficient reliability (Omega Hierarchical = .70) to warrant its calculation and interpretation; the Deficient (Omega Subscale = .36) and Unstable subscales (Omega Subscale = .30) failed to demonstrate sufficient reliability, suggesting that only the HSSS total score should be used in future research. In Study 3, analysis of the responses of 225 college students provided support for the convergent validity of the HSSS via theoretically-expected correlations with self-stigma of seeking help, public stigma of seeking help, attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help, and mental illness stereotype endorsement. In support of its incremental validity, the HSSS explained additional variance in the self-stigma of seeking help beyond the variance accounted for by public stigma of seeking help. The model-based internal consistency (Omega Hierarchical = .86) of the HSSS' total score received further support in Study 3.