Scholarly article on topic 'An analysis of the relationship between attitudes towards seeking psychological help and problem solving among university students'

An analysis of the relationship between attitudes towards seeking psychological help and problem solving among university students Academic research paper on "Sociology"

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{Attitudes / "psychological help" / "problem solving" / "university students" / counselling}

Abstract of research paper on Sociology, author of scientific article — Leyla Esentürk Ercan

Abstract This study is about the relationship between attitudes towards seeking pscychological help and problem solving. The sample of this study was composed from 386 university students (246 female, 140 male). The data were obtained by “Attitudes Towards Seeking Psychological Help Scale developed by Türküm (1997) and “Problem Solving Scale” developed by Heppner(1994). As a result of the research it has been seen that there is a meaningful relationship between attitudes towards seeking psychological help and problem solving.

Academic research paper on topic "An analysis of the relationship between attitudes towards seeking psychological help and problem solving among university students"

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Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 2 (2010) 1814-1819


An analysis of the relationship between attitudes towards seeking psychological help and problem solving among university students

Leyla Esenturk Ercana *

a Gazi University, Gazi Education Faculty, Ankara, 06500,Turkey Received October 15, 2009; revised December 24, 2009; accepted January 8, 2010


This study is about the relationship between attitudes towards seeking pscychological help and problem solving. The sample of this study was composed from 386 university students ( 246 female, 140 male). The data were obtained by "Attitudes Towards Seeking Psychological Help Scale" developed by Turkum (1997) and "Problem Solving Scale" developed by Heppner(1994). As a result of the research it has been seen that there is a meaningful relationship between attitudes towards seeking psychological help and problem solving . © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Attitudes; psychological help; problem solving; university students; counselling.

1. Introduction

Since the period of university education follows the adolesency that is very critical period of life, it should be paid attention and studied. This period is significant because young people enter into totally different environment and there are serious developmental and environmental factors affecting them, making this period very interesting study area.

Counselling services provided at the university should be carefully analysed and the results obtained should be taken into consideration in order to restructure such services since undergraduate students' needs, problems, personality development, orientations, development of career plans are entirely influenced by these services (Ozbay, 1997, p. l).

Being a university student and university life are among those settings that produce anxiety and stres both in Turkey and in other countries. University students have certain developmental problems. They are neither adults nor children. They often experience the problems related to the transition period. They deal with such issues as finding their own identity, adopting larger society's national and universal values instead of those values that are local and unique to the childhood, adopting social values and acquiring social maturity (Ozguven,1988).

* Leyla Esentürk Ercan. Tel: + 90 312 202 81 82; fax: + 90 312 222 84 83 E-mail address:

1877-0428 © 2010 Published by Elsevier Ltd. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.03.990

Many university students may experience academic underachievement. Eliminating underachievement is closely related to the identification of the factors affecting the achievement. If these factors are known, it is thought that reasons for underachievement can be controlled . University students should gain those behaviour appropriate for sexual identity and independence that are the first significant steps for social maturity (Cuhadaroglu, 1989, p. 35).

Major stressors for university students are stated as follows: adopting to totally new social environment that is very different from their family settings, becoming familiar with the value system of new peer groups and confronting with different cultural values. These stressors may lead to depressive experiences (Kog, Av§aroglu & Sezer, 2004).

University students as a group is among the those that have been extensively analysed. The reasons for this attention can be based on several facts: university students are a part of the university that is regarded as being at the top level of our educational system and represent a minority since the number of young people receiveing higher education is significantly less (Ye§ilyaprak, 2002, pp.35-36)

Problems experienced by university students have been extensively studied .Research on problems experienced by university students reveals that major problems experienced by them are as follows: educational problems, familial problems, personality problems, sexual problems, generational conflict, future expectations, financial problems, unemployment, drug use, depression and psychological problems. Although university students come across various problems, they do not tend to receive professional assistance in order to solve these problems (Tan, 1954; Özdemir, 1985; Özgüven, 1988; Özbay, 1998; Ültanir, 1998; Esentürk- Ercan, 1998; Karagüven, 2000;Aydin & Güneri, 2001; Bayhan, 2002; Erdogan, §anli & Bekir, 2005).

They try to solve their problems following several ways. Major ways employed by them are receiving social support from relatives or peers and professional assistance.

In recent years research concerning university students' help-seeking behaviour has been expanded. Some research deals with students' attitudes towards problematic areas and help-seeking process (Özbay, 1997; Ültanir, 1998; Yüksel & Öngider, 1999; Aydin & Güneri, 2001; Özbay, 1998; Türküm, 2001; Akaydin, 2002; Türküm, 2004; Kalkan & Odaci, 2005; Erkan, Özbay, Cankaya & Terzi, 2008).

Universities provide students with counselling services to help them in dealing with the problems and in personal improvement. Related research suggests that guidance services offered have positive effects on university students and that those students receiving these services appear to adopt more easily to socail and academic environment (Rickinson, 1998;Rickinson & Rutherford,1995).

However, majority of the research reveal that students do not often prefer to employ psychological counselling services as a way to solve the problems they come across. They are found to receive social support from their family members and peers (Benedict et. al,1977; Boldero & Fallon, 1995; Cook et. al, 1984; Dubow et. al, 1990; Gibson et al., 1992; Gonzales, 2001; Lin, 2001; Oliver et. al, 1999; Raviv et. al, 2000; Rudowitz and Au, 2001; Skuy et. al, 1985).

The findings suggest that university students tend to receive psychological assistance only when they experience psychological problems (Al-Darmaki & Al-Tahan, 1997; Heppner et. al.1994; Soliman, 1993).

Research concerning university students' attitudes towards psychological help-seeking behaviour focuses on the factors that either faciliates or inhibits psychological help-seeking behaviour (Dubow et. al., 1990; Rule & Gandy, 1994; Ey et. al., 2000; Kuhl et. al., 1997; North, 2002; West et. al., 1991).

Fischer et al. (1983) identify three major factors influencing the attitudes towards help-seeking:

1.Personal factors (including personal characteristics and situations)

2.Socio-cultural (including cultural values or a certain social group's characteristics);

3. Agency factors (including factors relating to counselling services such as the service, counsellors or other administrative issues).

Factors influencing the help-seeking behaviour may vary. Some individuals seek to receive professional assistance due to their personal fears, weakness, indeficiencies and inability, while others can easily and voluntarily seek professional assistance in regard to the psychological problems they experience.

Although university education offers the students many opportunities to improve themselves in terms of different points, it also significantly influences their life. Although university students come across various problems, they do not tend to receive professional assistance in order to solve these problems (Wittenberg, 2001).

One of the basic educational functions is to prepare individuals to their future life. In this context, education aims to provide students with efficiant problem-solving skills as well as to teach them how behave under which conditions amaglamaktadir (Saracaloglu, Keskin & Bozkurt, p.150, 2002).

People come across many situations in their daily life that demand the use of problem solving skills. It appears that individuals attempt to solve such problems based on their personal experience, customs or the assistance of dominant figures in their life (Karasar, p.55, 1999).

Individuals have a healthy, peaceful and happy life as long as they can solve the problems they meet. Therefore, individuals' achievement and happiness depend on their ability to properly solve the problems (Saracaloglu, Keskin & Bozkurt, p.150, 2002).

Kuzgun (1992) argues that successful problem-solving majorly depends on the correct identification of the problem. Clearly described problem leads to employ the most proper solution approach.

Although there are studies in regard to psychological assistance in Turkey, the relationship between attitudes towards psychological guidance and problem-solving skills has not been investigated in the Turkish context. Therefore, the current study attempts to fill this gap. Studying variables either encouraging or inhibiting help-seeking behaviour and attitude will produce necessary information to contribute to the improvement of psychological counselling and guidance in Turkey (Ozbay, Kog & Palanci, 1999).

In short, the aim of this study is to examine the relationship between university students' attitudes towards seeking psychological help and their problem-solving skills.

In parallel to this aim, the study tries to respon the following research question: is there statistically significant relationship between university students' attitudes towards seeking psychological help and their problem-solving skills ?

2. Method

This section describes the participants and procedures employed in the study.

2.1. Participants

The participants of the study are 386 undergraduate students (246 females and 140 males) attending to Gazi University Ankara Turkey during the academic year of 2008-2009. The participants were randomly selected.

2.2. Measures

Attitudes Towards Seeking Psychological Help Scale (PYTO)

PYTO is a tool used in order to measure undergraduate students' attitudes towards seeking psychological help. It is developed by Türküm (1997) and includes thirty items within four sub-scales. Its revised form (PYTO-R) includes a total of eighteen items. During the revision study, the scale was administered to a total of 481 undergraduate students. The results of the factor analysis showed that eighteen items accounting for 52.6 % of the variance are grouped under two factors. The first factor includes twelve items dealing with positive views on seeking psychological help and its internal consistency coefficient is .92. The internal consistency coefficient of the second factor is found to be.77 and includes negative views about seeking psychological help. Overall internal consistency coefficient of the scale is found to be .90. In order to examine the validity in terms of its distinguishing ability of participants, PYTO-R scores of people with prior experience of psychological guidance and those of prople without such an experience were compared using t-tests and it was found that those with prior experience have significantly higher scores. Test-retest reliability of the scale is found to be .77. Items in PYTO-R are scored using scores ranging between 1 and 5. Any score varying between 18 and 90 can be taken. Higher scores indicate a positive attitutde towards seeking psychological help (Türküm, 2001). In the current study, PYTO-R with eighteen items is employed.

Problem Solving Scale

Problem-solving scale was developed by Heppner (1982). It includes a total of thirty-five items which are made up of both neagtive and positive statements. Items are answered using likert-type scale. Its Cronbach alpha reliability coefficient is .90. In scoring the scale, negative statements are reversed to calculate the total score. The maximum score of the scale is 192 whereas minimum score is 32. Lower scores refer to efficient problem-solving skills, while higher scores refer to inefficient problem-solving skills.

3. Results

Table 1 shows the scores of the participants in regard to attitudes towards seeking psychological help and problem-solving scales.

Table 1. Correlation between attitude towards seeking psychological help and problem-solving skills

N X S r

Attitude towards seeking psychological help 387 3.92 .58 -.269*

Problem-solving skills 386 2.59 .55


As seen in Table 1, there is statistically significant relationship between the scores in regard to attitudes towards seeking psychological help and those in regard to problem-solving skills. In other words, there is a reverse and statistically significant correlation between attitudes towards seeking psychological help and those in regard to problem-solving skills. Therefore, higher the levels of problem-solving skills, more positive the attitude towards seeking psychological help.

3. Conclusion and Recommendation

Individuals may come across a variety of problematic situations and therefore, search for solutions for these problems. Such problems may be about personal conflicts experienced with family members or peers. They may also occur in school life. Individuals experience and feel frustration, anxiety when facing with problems and need to solve and eliminate these problems.

Problem-solving is defined as a behavioural process in which efficient problem-solving ways are formulated in order to efficiently deal with problematic situations. Frustrated individuals due to problematic situations attempt to solve the problems and therefore, initiate the process of problem-solving. Past experience influences developing solutions. People with higher levels of problem-solving skills seem to be much more volunteer in solving the problems (Heppner, 1994).

Individuals follow various ways to solve the problems. One of such ways is to seek psychological help. Help-seeking is a form of coping. Individuals may need to receive psychological help at several periods of their life. However, their beliefs about and attitudes towards seeking psychological help play a significant role in their problem-solving skills (Kalkan & Odaci, 2005).

Analysing the variables affecting the attitude towards seeking psychological help is significant for guidance services. Therefore, the study examines the relationship between university students' attitudes towards psychological counselling services and their problem-solving skills.

It is found that there is a relationship between university students' attitudes towards seeking psychological help and their problem-solving skills. It is also identified that those participants with higher levels of problem-solving skills have positive attitude towards seeking psychological help. These findings seem to be consistent with the previous findings (Dubow et al., 1990; Kuhl et al., 1997 ).

The following suggestions can be stated based on the findings of the study:

1. New university students can be trained in order to have much more positive attitude towards seeking psychological help and to improve their problem-solving skills.

2. University students should be familiar with the aims and activities of counselling services and encouraged to use such services.

3. The relationship investigated in the current study can be further analysed taking into consideration the other variables.

4. It is suggested that the similar research can be carried out on different samples.

5. In conclusion, the results of this study may be useful for planning the psychological counseling


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