Lay theories of psychotherapy: Perceptions of the efficacy of different 'cures' for specific disorders

  • Furnham A
  • Pereira E
  • Rawles R
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This study concerns the structure and determinants of lay beliefs about psychotherapy in general and specifically the effectiveness of various therapies for four different disorders. Two hundred and seventeen participants completed a two-part questionnaire. The first part was a replication of Furnham and Wardley’s (1990) ‘Attitudes to and beliefs about psychotherapy’ questionnaire, while the second part was a modified version of Furnham and Wardley’s (1991) ‘Efficacy of psychological cures’ questionnaire. Participants had to rate the effectiveness of 24 different therapies for depression, schizophrenia, delusional disorder and anorexia nervosa. The highest and lowest rated item of the first questionnaire replicated earlier findings. Participants’ efficacy ratings of the different therapies did differ markedly across the disorders. The mean ratings revealed more optimism about the ‘curability of depression’ as opposed to the other three disorders. Factor analysis of the ratings of efficacy of the 24 therapies revealed four factors: cognitive, behavioural, physical and rational. Cognitive therapies were thought most appropriate for delusional disorders, behaviour therapies for depression and physical therapies for anorexia. Results were discussed in terms of how people acquire knowledge of clinical psychological processes.

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  • A. Furnham

  • E. Pereira

  • R. Rawles

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