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Effects of Benefit-Focused Versus Standard Expressive Writing on Adolescents' Self-Concept During the High School Transition

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Abstract

This randomized trial compared two types of expressive writing—benefit-focused versus standard expressive writing—with a factual writing (control) condition in enhancing adolescents' self-concept during the transition to high school. First-year male students (= 201) wrote on three consecutive days about either the potential benefits of the school transition, their deepest thoughts and feelings about this transition, or their school activities. The benefit-focused group had better short-term academic self-concept relative to the other two conditions, especially among students who had low academic self-concept at baseline, but these changes were not lasting. Writing about the benefits of the transition may be a cost-effective school-based intervention to strengthen academic self-concept, but may need augmentation with booster sessions or interpersonal discussion.

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