Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Amy Fiske

Committee Co-Chair

Barry Edelstein

Committee Member

Aaron Metzger

Committee Member

Christine Rittenour

Committee Member

Natalie Shook


Seeking help is one way that individuals can maintain and achieve goals, but older adults may be reluctant to ask for help if they feel they cannot give anything in return. Men or individuals who endorse traditional beliefs about masculine behavior may be less likely than other individuals to ask for help. The first aim of the present study was to determine if a brief experimental manipulation based on the norm of reciprocity could increase help-seeking behavior and improve attitudes toward seeking help in older men and women. A second aim was to examine the relation between traditional beliefs about masculine behavior and help-seeking attitudes and behavior. Fifty-six community-dwelling older adults ages 60 to 91 (M = 68.37, SD = 7.30, 42.86% male) participated in the current study. To induce reciprocity, participants in the experimental group were given the opportunity to help the researcher; participants in the control group were not. Then, help-seeking behavior was assessed during a difficult puzzle task. There was no significant difference between groups on in-session help-seeking behavior or self-reported attitudes, Wilks' Lambda (3, 42) = 0.98, p = .776. Controlling for age, greater endorsement of beliefs about traditional masculine behavior was associated with poorer attitudes toward seeking help, but not actual help-seeking behavior. Furthermore, the self-report measures of attitudes toward help-seeking were not associated with actual help-seeking behavior. Additional finding regarding age, life-time help-seeking for mental health problems, and depressive symptoms are discussed and provide avenues for future study.