Transforming Dissatisfaction with Services into Self-Determination: A Social Psychological Perspective on Community Program Effectiveness

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Community Mental Health Services; Rehabilitation, Vocational; Employment, Supported


Health Services Research | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


A field study of supported employment for adults with mental illness (N=174) provided an experimental test of cognitive dissonance theory. We predicted that most work-interested individuals randomly assigned to a non-preferred program would reject services and lower their work aspirations. However, individuals who chose to pursue employment through a non-preferred program were expected to resolve this dissonance through favorable service evaluations and strong efforts to succeed at work. Significant work interest-by-service preference interactions supported these predictions. Over two years, participants interested in employment who obtained work through a non-preferred program stayed employed a median of 362 days versus 108 days for those assigned to a preferred program, and participants who obtained work through a non-preferred program had higher service satisfaction.

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Citation: J Appl Soc Psychol. 2009 Aug 1;39(8):1835-1859. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of applied social psychology

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID