Lance V. Suan

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




A substantial amount of research has been directed towards identifying particular factors which contribute toward a positive psychotherapy outcome. One variable which appears to positively influence psychotherapy outcome is the "therapeutic alliance," or the establishment of a positive working relationship between client and counselor. The present study investigated the therapeutic alliance as a function of the degree of agreement between client and therapist about Affective Control values, or beliefs concerning whether emotional expression constitutes healthy or unhealthy emotional adjustment.

Subjects consisted of 111 undergraduate students; 64 subjects were identified as high scorers on the Affective Control Scale of the Mental Health Values Questionnaire (MHVQ), and 47 were identified as low scorers. Half of the high and low score subjects were exposed to a therapist on videotape who described affective control as a positive indicator of emotional adjustment (i.e., high on Affective Control). The other half of high and low score subjects were exposed to a therapist on videotape who described affective control as a negative indicator of emotional adjustment (i.e., low on Affective Control). Thus, half of all subjects experienced a therapist-value congruent condition while the remaining subjects experienced a therapist-value incongruent condition.

Results indicated that therapist-value congruent subjects rated the therapist as both more trustworthy and more comfortable to be with than did incongruent subjects. An unhypothesized finding indicated that high affective control-score subjects rated the therapist more positively on a number of traits than did low affective control-score subjects. It is possible that the more positive ratings by high affective control-score subjects may be a function of a general reserve or reluctance to express openly negative opinions about others, thus resulting in "inflated" therapist evaluations. However, it is also possible that the Affective Control Scale of the MHVQ may actually be measuring a variable other than affective control values, such as a "Positive Outlook" or "Positive Appraisal Tendency." Further research utilizing the MHVQ will contribute to our understanding of the factors which are involved in a successful therapeutic alliance.