Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name





Psychology, Social.




This study examined the effectiveness of advice for coping with interpersonal conflicts. The focus was on helping with psychological stress and the maintenance of relationships. Recently, advice-giving has been viewed from an attributional framework, a theory emphasizing causality. Brickman et al. (1981), however, suggest the need to consider also the attributions of responsibility for solution. Moreover, strategies focusing on intentions and outcome are quite common but have not been studied systematically within an advice-giving paradigm. This experiment included 320 undergraduate females. A factorial design involved two levels of each of four variables: responsibility for cause, responsibility for solution, outcome and intentions. A letter-vignette technique was developed to present the different possible combinations, resulting in 16 different letter-vignettes. Each subject was presented with the same letter describing an interpersonal conflict in which the writer asks for advice, and a second letter which contained one of the 16 combinations of advice. The instructions were to rate the advice given in terms of helpfulness. Two types of dependent measures were used to assess the advice. The first type included the affect variables of feelings of anger, sadness and feeling better. The relationship-maintenance variables included facilitation of trust and resolution to continue the relationship. The most dramatic finding was the differential effect of advice. Advice focusing on nonresponsibility for cause was judged to be more effective for helping with the affect variables, suggesting that people would rather see themselves as innocent victims. In contrast, advice focusing on responsibility for resolving the problem situation was judged to be most effective for repairing the relationship. Attribution of responsibility accounted for most of the variance. Intentions and outcomes had inconsequently main or interaction effects contrary to popular beliefs. One implication of the study is that informal advice-giving strategies can be profitably examined with an experimental letter-vignette technique. Also, in view of the fact that most people turn to non-professionals for advice, informal advice-giving strategies deserve further attention. Such research should examine behavioural vs. characterological self blame, levels of responsibility, and type and severity of the problem.Dept. of Psychology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1983 .A933. Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 44-03, Section: B, page: 0951. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1983.