Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Despite psychodrama’s popularity as a clinical procedure, few adequately controlled outcome studies have been reported. The purpose of this study was to determine whether participants in short-term psycho drama groups, relative to controls would show greater change in selfactualization, locus-of-control, and positive "back-home" behavior reported by significant others. Since protagonists emerged spontaneously from their groups, it was also possible to: (a) determine whether protagonists gained more from the psychodrama experience than less active group members, and (b) identify personality and demographic characteristics associated with participants’ willingness to assume the protagonist role.

Forty-four volunteers from a university community were randomly assigned to four psychodrama groups. Each group met twice weekly for two weeks. Psychodrama sessions conformed to Morena's (1946) procedure and each was 2 to 3 hours in duration. A two-phase, lagged treatment design allowed control subjects to participate in psychodrama after providing comparison data for the original experimental £s: Groups A and B received psychodrama in Phase I, followed by Groups C and D in Phase II. After each four-session phase (at 3 points in time), all Ss completed Shostrum's (1966) Personal Orientation Inventory (POI) and Rotter's (1966) I-E scales, and nominated significant others (SO's) rated participants’ mood and behavior during the preceding week using the Zuckerman-Lubin (1965) Multiple Affect Adjective Check List (MAACL). Participants also completed a brief questionnaire following each psychodrama session.

In contrast to positive testimonials of group members, the quantitative results provide little evidence that psychodrama influenced participant growth and behavior change. In neither phase of the lagged-treatment design did psychodrama participants differe from controls on the POI and I-E measures. Nor was there evidence that the group experience produced "back-home" change as reflected in the reportes of nominated significant others. The results also failed to show consistent outcome differences between Ss who volunteered for the protagonist role and those who did not. Relative to non-protagonists, however, protagonist volunteers tended to be less self-actualized (POI time-competence), more external in their locus-of-control orientation, and more distressed in the week prior to the group experience (significant other ratings).

Limiting features of the study*s design are discussed. Since demand characteristics and/or test sensitization effects could well have been operating (Smith, 1975), the failure to find positive effects of the psychodrama experience is all the more striking