You can do it! An experimental evaluation of an encouragement intervention for female students

Y. Joel Wong, Nelson O.O. Zounlome, Nancy Goodrich Mitts, Emily Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Although encouragement is a prevalent means of social support in everyday life, the empirical study of encouragement interventions has been sparse. Therefore, in this study, the authors evaluated an encouragement letter writing intervention. Participants were 140 (70 pairs of) doctoral advisors and their female advisees in Ph.D. psychology programs. Participants were randomly assigned to an experimental condition (advisors wrote and emailed a letter of encouragement to their advisees concerning their research potential) or a control condition (advisors wrote but did not send their letter of encouragement). About one month later, advisees in the experimental condition reported a greater increase in the advisor-advisee rapport (ηp2 =.12), interest in conducting research (ηp2 =.06), and interest in being a professor at a research-intensive university (ηp2 =.06) than those in the control condition. The advisor-advisee rapport, but not advisees’ relation-inferred self-efficacy, mediated the positive effects of the encouragement letter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-437
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Positive Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 3 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Encouragement
  • advising
  • positive psychology interventions
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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