Publication Date

Spring 2019

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Lance W. Hahn (Director), Matthew C. Shake, and Jenni B. Teeters

Degree Program

Department of Psychological Sciences

Degree Type

Master of Science


Background: Nearly 45 million adults in the United States live with a mental health disorder and only 43% of them seek treatment. One of the major barriers to seeking treatment is accessibility and can be addressed through telepsychology, or providing services with technology. With technological improvements in written communication, using computer-mediated communication (CMC; e.g. text messaging) has become more regularly used and examined in healthcare. To date, little research has focused on the use of practitioner language in telepsychology.

Method: Two samples (university sample and national sample) totaling 396 participants were asked to rate a therapist on attractiveness (i.e. likability and sociability), expertness, and trustworthiness after reading one of four text-message introductions. The messages varied in the language used: Jargon, jargon with layman explanations, layman only, and text speak.

Analysis: The participants’ ratings of the therapist were analyzed using analysis of variance to examine differences between the rating means.

Results: University participants rated a therapist higher in attractiveness when the text-message used layman language only compared to jargon, jargon with layman, and text speak. Both samples rated the therapist lower in attractiveness, expertness, and likelihood to use services of therapist when the text-message contained text speak.


Clinical Psychology | Communication Technology and New Media | Counseling Psychology | Psychiatry and Psychology | Psychology