Date of Award

Fall 2022

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Psychology, PhD


School of Social Science, Politics, and Evaluation

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Jason T. Siegel

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

William D. Crano

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Eusebio M. Alvaro

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2022 Sara M Hollar


depression, help-seeking, persuasion, self-distancing

Subject Categories



People with high levels of depressive symptomatology report less favorable attitudes toward help-seeking and reduced help-seeking intentions than people with lower levels of depressive symptomatology. While some attempts to persuade people with depression to seek help have been successful, others have failed. Preliminary research using both perspective-taking and mental time-travel self-distancing writing tasks have shown potential. However, a video that asked people to think, rather than write, about help-seeking from a distanced perspective failed to increase help-seeking outcomes. This dissertation tests a new approach where participants are prompted to take a self-distanced approach while watching existing help-seeking video messages. In these two studies self-distancing is used as a persuasive amplifier to boost the effectiveness of help-seeking messages. In study 1, participants were instructed to view a video Depression Public Service Advertisement (D-PSA) either from the perspective of their current self (immersive condition) or from the perspective of an objective other (distancing condition). Help-seeking attitudes, help-seeking intentions, and the negativity of thoughts in response to the D-PSAs were measured. The results of study 1 showed that viewing the D-PSA from a self-distanced perspective improved help-seeking attitudes in comparison to the immersive and control condition, and reduced negative thoughts compared to the immersive condition. Additionally, a significant interaction between depression symptomatology and self-distancing was found, such that self-distancing’s positive impact on attitudes was stronger at higher levels of depression. In study 2, participants were randomly assigned to one of two self-distancing conditions, or a control condition. The perspective-taking condition replicated the self-distancing condition from study 1. The mental time-travel condition asked participants to view the message from the point of view of their future self, 10 years into the future. Results of study 2 show that self-distancing through perspective-taking improved help-seeking attitudes, increased help-seeking intentions, and reduced negative thought content compared to a control. Self-distancing through mental time-travel reduced negative thought content compared to the control condition. For both perspective-taking and mental time-travel conditions, self-distancing’s effect on help-seeking intentions was mediated through reduced negativity and improved attitudes. These two studies indicate that placing a short instruction request to view a video from a self-distanced perspective amplified the influence of current help-seeking D-PSAs on help-seeking for depression. Adding a self-distancing persuasive amplifier prior to messages may have potential utility for PSA’s in other domains as well.



Included in

Psychology Commons