Murray State Theses and Dissertations


Self-help books are utilized as a cost-effective way of reducing psychological or emotional difficulties. Many self-help books target various types of mental health distress, and are easily accessed by the public. As of 2016, Americans spent 2.7 billion dollars on general self-help approaches, including self-help books (Nahin, Barnes, and Stussman, 2016). The present study seeks to investigate potential clients’ preferences of self-help books and their associated credibility. This study expands the work of Redding, Herbert, Forman, and Gaudiano (2008) who rated and examined the psychological properties of 50 bestselling self-help books published from the late 1990’s to 2005. The current study examined (1) what self-help books among those reviewed by Redding et al. (2008) do participants prefer, (2) how do participants’ preferences align with the expert ratings of Redding et al. (2008), and (3) what are the similarities and differences between participant and expert ratings and various demographic factors. Data collected from a Southern regional university revealed a significant correlation between expert and participant credibility scores, indicating that experts and participants in the current study perceive the credibility of specific depression, anxiety, and trauma focused self-help books similarly. More importantly a small sample of participants were able to discern between credible and non-credible self-help books while the majority of participants showed no relationship to the experts. The findings from the current study add to the small preexisting literature regarding self-help treatment modalities. Limitations of the current study and future research are discussed.

Year manuscript completed


Year degree awarded


Author's Keywords

Self-help, Self-help book, Credibility, Experts, Novices

Thesis Advisor

Michael J. Bordieri

Committee Chair

Sean C. Rife

Committee Member

Esther N. K. Malm

Committee Member

Justin R. Brogan

Document Type