Academic journal article The Journal of Men's Studies

Who Seeks Help? Examining the Differences in Attitude of Turkish University Students toward Seeking Psychological Help by Gender, Gender Roles, and Help-Seeking Experiences

Academic journal article The Journal of Men's Studies

Who Seeks Help? Examining the Differences in Attitude of Turkish University Students toward Seeking Psychological Help by Gender, Gender Roles, and Help-Seeking Experiences

Article excerpt

What influences a person to seek help? Studies have looked at numerous factors that influence an individual's help-seeking behaviour such as fear and distress (Deane& Chamberlain, 1994), self-concealment tendency (Cepeda-Benito & Short, 1998; Kelly & Achter, 1995), perception of social stigma (Farina, Holland, & Ring, 1996), emotional openness and psychological symptom severity (Komiya et al., 2000), avoidance factors (Vogel & Wester, 2003), internal working models of close relationships (Lopez, Melendez, Sauner, Berger, & Wyssmann, 1998), and psychotherapy session limits (Uffelman & Hardin, 2002).

Gender is yet another factor found to influence help-seeking behavior. Men, for instance, tend to display more negative attitudes toward seeking help (Blazina & Watkins, 1996; Boey, 1999; Fischer & Turner, 1970; Leong & Zachar, 1999; Turkum, 2000, 2001) and are more resistant to seeking counselling (Good, Dell, & Mintz, 1989; Rickwood & Braithwaite, 1994). Margolis (1982) found women outnumbered men in a clinical setting.

Furthermore, studies reveal that not only gender but also gender roles influence help-seeking behaviour. Gender role here is defined as "behaviours, expectations, and role sets that are defined by society as masculine or feminine, and are embodied in the behaviour of the individual man or woman, and culturally regarded as appropriate to males or females" (O'Neil, 1981, p. 203). According to Sandra Bem's classification (1974), gender roles can be grouped as feminine, masculine, androgynous, or undifferentiated. Further, Bern suggests that androgynous individuals--those individuals who display both masculine and feminine personality traits--are better adjusted psychologically than sex-typed (e.g., feminine or masculine) individuals.

Other research shows that individuals displaying a masculine role structure scored lower on depression but exhibited greater antisocial behaviour and substance-abuse problems, whereas a feminine role predicted lower antisocial behaviour and substance abuse problem (Lengua & Stormshak, 2000). More germane to our study, those with masculine gender-role orientation were less likely to express an interest in seeking counselling than individuals with a feminine gender-role orientation (Margolis, 1982), than those with an androgynous gender role (Nadler, Maler, & Friedman, 1984), or those exhibiting an undifferentiated gender role (Good et al., 1989; Good & Wood, 1995; Robertson & Fitzgerald, 1992).

Other research has looked at how various cultures can influence gender and gender-role development (see, for example, Boey, 1999; Gong, Gage, & Tacara, 2003; Kung, 2004; Tata & Leong, 1994; Turkum, 2000, 2001; Yii-nii, 2002; Zhang & Dixon, 2003). Bem's (1981) notion that gender-role socialization (obviously culturally influenced) led men to view the world through a masculine cognitive lens suggests a degree of variability of help-seeking behaviours across gender roles and cultures. For instance, studies comparing similarities and differences between help-seeking behaviours of those living in eastern and western countries revealed a wide variety of results (A. Egisdottir & Gerstein, 2000; Gloria, Hird, & Navarro, 2001; Knipscheer & Kleber, 2001; Sheikh & Furnham, 2000; Sung-Kyung & Skovholt, 2001). Although attention has been paid to gender roles, help-seeking behaviours, and their associated constructs within counselling literature, most of these studies focused mainly on Western European and/or North American cultures (Blazina & Marks, 2001; Blazina & Watkins, 1996; Good, Robertson, Fitzgerald, Stevens, & Bartels, 1996; Komiya, Good, & Sherrod, 2000; Tokar, Fischer, Schaub, & Moradi, 2000).

Turkey is a country straddling both Eastern and Western cultures. For instance, one can see the common Middle Eastern view of women as having "second class status" as well as the traditional intrafamily sex-role segregation in Turkey (see Kagitcibasi, 1982). …

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