Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Patrick R. Mullen

Committee Member

Jason Chen

Committee Member

Rebecca Sheffield

Committee Member

Victoria Foster


Though social comparison behaviors have been widely studied in both occupational and academic contexts, no empirical study has investigated how social comparison presents in counselor education programs. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships between social comparison orientation, counseling self-efficacy, sources of counseling self-efficacy, and program satisfaction. The researcher distributed paper and online surveys to capture self-report data from 242 counselors-in-training (CITs) from CACREP-accredited programs in the United States on the Iowa-Netherlands Comparison Orientation Measure (INCOM), the Sources of Counseling Self-Efficacy Scale (SCSES), an adapted version of the Counselor Self-Efficacy Scale (CSES-A), two subscales of the Psychology Program Satisfaction Survey (PPSS) and the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). The researcher tested the hypothesized causal model using Structural Equation Modeling in which social comparison orientation significantly moderated the relationship between sources of counseling self-efficacy and counselor self-efficacy which then predicted levels of program satisfaction. Results indicated that CIT comparison orientation significantly moderated the relationship between sources of self-efficacy and self-efficacy in multiple ways, the most significant being that high comparison orientation of ability strengthened mastery experiences’ contribution to overall counseling self-efficacy. Self-efficacy in turn significantly predicted program satisfaction. This study carries many implications for supervisors and instructors of CITs, including new perspectives on how to navigate barriers to self-efficacy development and satisfaction as well as rationale for integrating psychoeducation on the ways social comparisons can help or hinder their students.



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