Assessing the utility of the willingness/prototype model in predicting help-seeking decisions

Joseph H. Hammer, David L. Vogel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Prior research on professional psychological help-seeking behavior has operated on the assumption that the decision to seek help is based on intentional and reasoned processes. However, research on the dual-process prototype/willingness model (PWM; Gerrard, Gibbons, Houlihan, Stock, & Pomery, 2008) suggests health-related decisions may also involve social reaction processes that influence one's spontaneous willingness (rather than planned intention) to seek help, given conducive circumstances. The present study used structural equation modeling to evaluate the ability of these 2 information-processing pathways (i.e., the reasoned pathway and the social reaction pathway) to predict help-seeking decisions among 182 college students currently experiencing clinical levels of psychological distress. Results indicated that when both pathways were modeled simultaneously, only the social reaction pathway independently accounted for significant variance in help-seeking decisions. These findings argue for the utility of the PWM framework in the context of professional psychological help seeking and hold implications for future counseling psychology research, prevention, and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-97
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Counseling Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Counseling
  • Help seeking
  • Prototype willingness
  • Reasoned action

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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