I know who I am : a true self-knowledge intervention to improve college students' anxiety, depressive symptoms, and alcohol use

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


The transition into college is fraught with the potential for anxiety, depression and risky health behaviors. The goal of my thesis was to design and test an intervention focused on perceived true self-knowledge, or the feeling of knowing who one really is. I hypothesized that increasing perceived true self-knowledge would decrease depression, anxiety, and risky alcohol use. Undergraduate students (N= 91) first completed an online survey that included baseline measurements of anxiety, depression and alcohol use. The day after completing this baseline survey, participants were randomly assigned to complete conditions of the intervention. The intervention phase consisted of four days of writing tasks. Participants in the true self-knowledge intervention condition identified characteristics that define who they truly are daily for four consecutive days. Participants in the control condition did the same thing but were asked to identify office supplies. Two-weeks following the intervention, participants (N=61) completed a second survey that assessed anxiety, depression, and alcohol use. I hypothesized that, controlling for baseline, participants in the true self-knowledge condition would report lower levels of anxiety, depression, and alcohol use compared to the control condition. The results indicated that the intervention did not successfully increase perceived true self-knowledge. Additionally, the results did not support my hypothesis. The only significant effect to emerge was an unexpected increase in the self-reported number of drinks consumed in a typical drinking event among those in the true self-knowledge intervention condition. The limitations of the intervention and potential avenues for future research are discussed.




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