Effectiveness of Rational-Emotive Education: A Quantitative Meta-Analytical Study

Article excerpt


Research on Rational Emotive Education (REE) is not as prolific as in Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), on which it is based. No quantitative meta-analytic studies of REE were found in the literature; in fact, we found only 6 reviews on REE. The objective of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of REE through a quantitative meta-analitical study. Twenty-six (26) published articles, which fit the inclusion criteria, were examined. Results demonstrated that REE had a powerful effect on lessening irrational beliefs and dysfunctional behaviors, plus a moderate effect concerning positive inference making and decreasing negative emotions. The efficiency of REE appeared to not be affected by the length of applied REE. Rather, the REE effect was strong when participants were concerned with their problems. Types of psychometric measure used for irrational beliefs evaluation affected the results. Effect sizes increased from medium to large when the subjects were children and adolescents compared to young adults.

Key words: Rational Emotive Education, quantitative meta-analysis, effectiveness.


Compared to research on Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), the research concerning Rational-Emotive Education (REE) seemed not to be nearly so ubiquitous. Searches of ERIC, EBSCO, and PsychInfo based on the key words rational emotive education enabled the writers to discern the following:

1) for the 1970s, twenty-one (21) published articles, 2 books and 10 dissertations were located;

2) in the 1980s, Rational-Emotive Education (REE) was the topic for thirteen (13) published articles, 2 book chapters, and eighteen (18) dissertations;

3) between 1990-2006, the search revealed thirty-one (31) published articles, 2 book chapters, and fourteen (14) dissertations.

No quantitative meta-analytic studies of REE were found in the literature. Only 6 reviews were found as qualitative meta-analytic studies (DiGiuseppe, Miller, & Trexler, 1977; DiGiuseppe & Bernard, 1990; Gossette & O'Brien, 1989; Gossette & O'Brien, 1993; Hajzler & Bernard, 1991; Watter, 1988). Four of them presented data (percentages) about the efficiency of REE. The review studies by Gossette and O'Brien (1993) were the most critical and their advice was that it seemed fruitless for anyone to undertake REE research.

DiGiuseppe, Miller, and Trexler (1977) reviewed Maultsby and his other studies (Maultsby, 1974; Maultsby, Knipping & Carpenter, 1974; Maultsby, Costello & Carpenter) that argued that Rational-Emotive Education was an efficient prophylactic against mental deterioration among non-clinical populations of children and adolescents. Other studies reviewed by them asserted that the children involved in an REE program were able to learn the REBT assumptions, to modify their irrational beliefs, and to have more functional emotions and behavior than they had before REE.

Watter (1988) analyzed the research that had been done after the dates of those cited in the previous paragraph on Rational-Emotive Education. Watter concluded that elementary school pupils who attended REE had modified their anxiety levels, increased self-esteem, and raised low frustration tolerance (LFT) toward high frustration tolerance (HFT). Generally, such students became more skilled at coping with emotionally loaded situations. Compared to an educational program based on elements of Freudian theory as well as with a sex education program, REE was helpful for students to decrease irrational beliefs and dysfunctional emotions.

Gossette and O'Brien (1989; followed by Gossette & O'Brien, 1993) judged that the studies that had been conducted on REE did not offer enough data to support the possibility of efficiency with school populations. The major effect of REE was on irrational beliefs, as was expected. Their judgments were not surprising because the content of irrational beliefs measuring scales was identical with the content of the REE curriculum. …