British Journal of Clinical Psychology

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Volume 50 Issue 1 (March 2011), Pages 1-114

The effects of peripheral message cues on clinicians' judgments about clients' psychological status (pages 67-83)

This research examined the influence of peripheral message cues on clinicians' judgment about the psychological status of clients. The elaboration likelihood model (ELM) of social persuasion suggests that peripheral message cues are likely to exert a greater influence on clinicians' judgments when a client's presentation meets some, but not all, diagnostic criteria for a disorder (i.e., when the presentation is ambiguous). Within this theoretical framework, we examined the effects of a peripheral message cue (level of irrelevant detail in the client's presentation) and presentation ambiguity on clinicians' judgments of need for treatment, illness severity, and distress. Consistent with predictions based on the ELM, for both obsessive‐compulsive disorder and post‐traumatic stress disorder presentations, high levels of irrelevant detail exerted a greater influence on clinicians' judgments of clients' need for treatment when presentation ambiguity was high than when it was low.

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