Study by Muscari, Fleming featured in Psychology Today

A study by Emma Muscari '19 and Assistant Professor of Psychology CJ Fleming on romantic partners and their influence in mental health help-seeking was recently featured by Psychology Today.

A recent Psychology Today article featured a study, “Help-seeking for mental health concerns: The role of partner influence,” written by Emma Muscari ’19 and Assistant Professor of Psychology CJ Fleming.

The article, “Can you get your partner to take your advice,” highlights the study in which Muscari and Fleming sampled 282 adults in committed romantic relationships, who reported being diagnosed with a mental health condition. Each participant was recruited through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.

Muscari and Fleming focused on how romantic partners – more so than other people – might have an impact on their partners’ willingness to seek medical help.

“Individuals often turn to their social circles for support, and the level of support they receive directly relates to their intention to seek help,” the two wrote in the study.

To conduct their research, Muscari and Fleming tested three basic advice-giving strategies: high acceptance-high challenge (autonomy support), high acceptance-low challenge (accommodation), and low acceptance-high challenge (criticism). To test each strategy, the authors provided participants with one of three vignettes that contained supportive, accommodating or criticizing messages from a hypothetical partner. The participants were to read the messages and indicate whether, on a scale from zero to 10, they would be likely to seek medical help.

The research found the style of message did not necessarily affect each participant’s zero-to-10 rating, however, participants reported feeling most confident in seeking medical help when exposed to the more supportive, accommodating approaches.

Read the entire Psychology Today article here.