Time-focused role induction report of an instructive failure

Stanley D. Imber, Shashi K. Pande, Jerome D. Frank, Rudolf Hoehn-Saric, Anthony R. Stone, Donald G. Wargo

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Of the several possible components of a role induction interview this investigation examined “hope for improvement,” defining it in terms of a 4-week period when improvement could be expected. The hypothesis was that patients induced to expect improvement after 4 weeks of psychotherapy will report greater change at that point than other patients, whose expectations extend to a 4-month period. Fourteen psychoneurotic patients who appeared not to hold fixed time expectations regarding their rate of improvement, as revealed in a screening interview, were included in the study. All patients were administered a series of mock physiological tests; half of them were informed that the “tests” revealed they would experience improvement by the 4th week of psychotherapy and the remainder that improvement would be a gradual process over the 4-month psychotherapy period. All patients received a standard role induction interview and were assigned to one of four psychotherapists who saw the patients weekly. In addition to several scales for measuring the outcome of treatment, a relief expectancy questionnaire was administered prior to and immediately following the mock session. Outcome measures revealed no differences between the experimental and control groups at either the 4-week or termination points and the questionnaire findings demonstrated failure of time induction to produce anticipated shifts even immediately after that procedure. It is concluded that patients have quite definite prior expectations with respect to improvement, and these are not easily manipulated. The 4-week expectancy we sought to induce may be too abbreviated even for clinically naive patients. Also, the isolation of time for experimental emphasis may do violence to role induction as an integral process, and the effect may be dissolved in the surround of the many other principles presented in a general role induction procedure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-30
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1970

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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