Who volunteers for companionship with mental patients? A study of attitude-belief-intention relationships1


  • Edward H. Fischer

    1. Connecticut Valley Hospital
    Search for more papers by this author
    • 2

      The cooperation of Dr Philip D Wheaton, President, Middlesex Community College, and his staff is gratefully acknowledged The author also wishes to thank Carol Efron and Gary Johnson for their help with data tabulation and analyses

  • 1

    The study was partly supported by Public Health Service Research Grant i HO 3 MH 16749-01 from the National Institute of Mental Health


329 students were asked to join a companionship program for mental hospital patients. It was expected that the relationship between humanitarian attitudes and intention to participate would be stronger for subjects with benign beliefs than for subjects with unfavorable beliefs about patients The findings were (a) subjects’ intentions corresponded to their later joining (p<.001), and were unrelated to social desirability, (b) general helping and social-responsibility attitudes correlated higher than did specific beliefs about patients, with willingness to become a companion, (c) attitude-intention correlations were greatest for subjects with neutral beliefs, and weakest for subjects with benign beliefs (upsetting the main hypothesis), (d) the same pattern of correlations obtained in subgroups trichotomized on the basis of another scale (ostensibly unrelated to volunteering for companionship) which had an authoritarian component. Result (d) suggests that a personality factor, not beliefs about patients, moderated variations in the attitude-intention relationship