Vol.3, No.7, 462-466 (2011) Health
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. Openly accessible at http://www.scirp.org/journal/HEALTH/
Study on group intervention regarding interpersonal
trust among college students with campus
Ying Ge1*, Huamin He1, Linna Dai1,2
1School of Educational Science, Laboratory of Cognition and Mental Health, Chongqing University of Arts and Sciences, Chongqing,
China; *Corresponding Author: gy8620@163.com
2Chongqing Yongchuan Middle School, Chongqing, China.
Received 3 May 2011; revised 19 June 2011; accepted 28 June 2011.
Purpose: To explore the interv entional effects of
campus psychodrama on improving the inter-
personal trust among college students. Me-
thods: 16 college students with low levels of
interpersonal trust were selected to conduct 5
sessions of psychodrama therapy. Results: The
subject group has gone through stages of ice
breaking, performance, and sharing. Through
group counseling with psychodrama, the social
avoidance and distressful behaviors of the
subjects have been alleviated, and their levels
of interpersonal trust demonstrated notable
change. Conclusion: Campus psychodrama is
an effective group counseling approach for im-
proving college students’ interper sonal trust.
Keywords: Psychodrama Therapy; Interpersonal
Trust; Group Intervention
Along with the reform and opening of China, the
people’s values have become diversified, and the social
morphology and family structures have undergone dra-
matic changes. In this context, college students are con-
fronted with pressures from various sources, and suffer
from psychological perplexities and disorders to differ-
ent degrees. Perplexity in interpersonal relationships is a
key contributor to their mental troubles, and interperson-
al trust serves as important metric measuring interper-
sonal relationships. Interpersonal trust refers to a posi-
tive psychological an ticipation regard ing other’s reliabil-
ity of their words and promises in the process of inter-
personal interaction, and its current conditions are not
optimistic[1,2]. As to the foregoing problems, research-
ers have tried various group counseling methods for
treatment and have positively explored the effects of the
novel expressive art therapy [3,4].
Psychodrama helps individuals present their psycho-
logical problems, which was proposed and developed by
a Vienna psychiatrist J. L. Moreno [5]. Psychodrama
incorporates individuals’ cognitive analysis, practical
experience, participation and immersion, and features
group therapy. During interaction among group members,
physical activities of participants make them sense their
innermost needs and desires. Campus psychodrama,
which was first developed between late 1980s and early
1990s, is a manifestation of psychodrama with Chinese
campus characteristics developed in campuses after it
was introduced into China and applied by some psycho-
logical health education experts in education practices.
Psychodrama combines drama, sketches and psycholog-
ical problems. It advocates spontaneity and authenticity
of actors’ performance. It is a method of group psycho-
logical therapy in which students can learn how to face
and correctly tackle with psych ological problems so that
they can solve their own psychological problems and
give educational inspiration to all participants with the
help of psychological counseling teachers and all partic-
ipating actors, through playing roles of themselves or
presenting all kinds of typical psychological problems
on the stage. According to related existing practices,
performing psychodrama helps facilitate positive changes
of unhealthy emotions and behaviors during interperson-
al interaction [6].
The study uses campus psychodrama and focuses on
improving college students’ interpersonal trust through
campus psychodrama intervention tests to explore the
effectiveness of campus psychodrama in improving col-
lege students’ interpersonal trust.
Y. Ge et al. / Health 3 (2011) 462-466
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. Openly accessible at http://www.scirp.org/journal/HEALTH/
2.1. Design of Study
The study uses two groups in the design of pre- and
post-test, with one being the experimental group and the
other being the control group. Before and after the test,
subjects of both groups received the same psychological
assessment respectively together with qualitative in-
depth interviews and case analysis.
2.2. Participants
150 sophomores and juniors were randomly selected
from a university and went through the assessment with
the Interpersonal Trust Scale and the Social Avoidance
and Distress Scale. The 32 students whose scores of “in-
terpersonal trust” are lower than 72 and those of social
avoidance and distress are among the highest were se-
lected. Based on their willingness, they are assigned to
the experimental group and the control group, with 16
students in each group.
2.3. Measures
The Interpersonal Trust Scale (ITS), prepared by
Rempel and Holmes (1986) [7], contains 18 questions
involving the three dimensions of trust: predictability,
dependability and reliability. Predictability refers to the
possibility whether we can predict our partners’ specific
behaviors, including those welcomed and unwelcome
ones. Dependability is the core of trust, while reliability
drives people to believe their partners will carry on re-
sponsibility to take care of them. 7-point rating style is
adopted in the scale, in which 1 point = totally disagree
and 7 points = totally agree. Total scores range from 18
points (lowest credibility) to 126 points (highest credi-
bility) with a median of 72 points, higher scores ind icat-
ing higher credibility. Th e scale is of goo d reliability and
validity that values of homogeneity reliability are 0.81,
0.82 and 0.80 respectively in sub-scales. The three sub-
-scales are moderately correlated (ranging from 0.27 to
The Social Avoidance and Distress Scale (SAD) for-
mulated by Watson and Friend (1969) [7], refers to dis-
tress in personal experience of social avoidance. Avoid-
ance is a behavior while distress is an emotional re-
sponse. It contains 28 items with 14 items for evaluating
social avoidance and the others for evaluating social
distress. Method of “yes or no” is adopted. Quite high
internal consistency shows itself when the method is
adopted, that average correlation coefficient of average
and items is 0.77 and retest reliability is 0.68. When
5-point rating style is used, The Cronbach’s Alpha coef-
ficient for internal consistency reliability is close to 0.90.
Plan of group counseling with campus psychodrama.
2.4. Processing of Experimental Data
Classify and number the pre-test and post-test of each
participant’s scale according to the type of groups and
make statistics and analysis with SPSS13.0. Qualitative
analysis was used for subjective evaluation.
3.1. Procedure and Analysis
The participants of the experimental group received
courses of intervention activities from the campus psy-
chodrama workshop, while the participants of the control
group did not take part in the intervention activities and
go on other activities as usual. The procedure is de-
scribed as follows:
The intervention activities of campus psychodrama
were held for 5 sessions, one session a week, and each
session lasted for 2 hours. Each session included three
Ice breaking stage: A short time of greeting and com-
munication and some warm-up games were made to
create a good psychological atmosphere within the
At the beginning of each session, under guidance of
the group leader, group members played different inter-
personal trust games and created a friendly, trustful
group atmosphere so that members could interact ac-
tively with each other and express themselves and share
their feelings [8].
Performance stage: sharing of experiences and per-
formance based on the prese t themes.
Group members chose seats they like and then sat
down in a circle. Then the group leader, as the first one,
shared his/her own story in his/her life. The story, not
judged for good or evil, right and wrong, only aimed at
releasing emotions and fostering communication. In the
process of performance, the most important thing was
not acting skills but finding causes of problems when
scenes reappeared, finding solutions and unlocking
mental knots to release emotions and heal wounds, and
to inspire oneself and spectators [9,10].
Sharing stage: Getting away from roles, reviewing and
With help from the audience or the group leader, the
actor/actress came out from his/her role with his/her
physical and mental state realigned, to make him-
self/herself understand his/her role and be ready for the
closure of the courses. The students exchanged ideas
about the contents of performance by turn, shared their
feelings and gave regards and recognition to themselves
Y. Ge et al. / Health 3 (2011) 462-466
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. Openly accessible at http://www.scirp.org/journal/HEALTH/
or others. Then the group leader commented on the ac-
tivity briefly and gave students some encourage, then
issued questionnaires to collect information about stu-
dents’ feelings and gains in the activities and abo ut their
suggestions toward next session. Information collected
in this stage would be auxiliary materials in addition to
the quantitative study and be used in qualitative study
3.2. Results and Analysis
3.2.1. Changes in Quantitative Results
Pre-test and post-test assessments were conducted for
the experimental and the control group. In order to
eliminate the impact of the pre-test scores, post-test
scores (post-test scores of the Interpersonal Trust Scale
and the Social Avoidance and Distress Scale) were taken
as the dependent variables; groups (experimental group
and control group) were the independent variables;
pre-test scores were the concomitant variables. The
pre-test scores were used to make analysis of covariance
and check whether the slope of each group was equal to
others. The results revealed that the interaction effect
between groups and its corresponding pre-test scores
(scores got from two scales) was insignificant (F = 0.082,
p > 0.05; F = 3.465, p > 0.05).
For the control group, scores of the tests before and
after the test had no difference. For the experimental
group, the total score of the Social Avoidance and Dis-
tress Scale and scores of the elements after the test were
lower than those before the test, but having no statisti-
cally significant difference; the total score of the Inter-
personal Trust Scale and scores of the elements after the
test increased considerably and there were significant
differences between the total score and scores of predic-
tability and reliability befo re and after the test (p < 0.01 ,
p < 0.001). During the post-tes t, there existed significan t
differences in the total score and scores of predictab ility,
reliability of the experimental group and those of the
control group for Interpersonal Trust Scale (p < 0.05, p <
0.01) (Table 1).
3.2.2. Results of Qualitative Analysis
Conditions of the experimental group members
throughout the activities were observed and recorded.
Some members were sampled to answer questionnaires
at the end of each session. Then the group leader and
group members discussed the activities and exchanged
ideas based on the preset theme. During interval of two
activities, members were randomly selected to complete
brief interviews through the Internet or by phone to
know their feelings.
According to observation of researchers and feedback
of participants, examples of the results are described
1) Positive effect on interpersonal trust:
“I think people around me love me, and this feeling is
so good!”; “We are like old fr iends, and we feel so close
to each other.”
2) Reduced social distress and avoidance:
“I begin to enjoy playing games with others.”; “Ac-
tually, staying with male students is not so suffering.”
3) Breakthroughs in understanding of themselves and
the society:
“Wherever we are, it is not a lack of beauty of life, but
it is our lack of discovery. I’m never a blind person!!!”
“I find sense of existence and I find that everyone is
Table 1. Scores of experimental group and control group during pre-test and post-test of college students’ interpersonal trust.
Subscale Pre-test Post-test t
M ± SD M ± SD
Predictability Experimental Group 21.94 ± 4.58 27.44 ± 4.82 –5.345***
Control Group 21.81 ± 5.33 21.44 ± 3.83 –0.534
t 0.232 2.241*
Dependability Experimental Group 23.56 ± 5.44 23.06 ± 5.84 –1.854
Control Group 23.44 ± 5.96 23.25 ± 3.39 –0.523
t 0.728 1.255
Reliability Experimental Group 21.69 ± 4.01 23.50 ± 4.16 –2.387**
Control Group 21.94 ± 4.60 21.20 ± 3.81 1.719
t 0.223 2.269*
Total Scale Experimental Group 72.19 ± 8.16 78.00 ± 10.30 –6.252***
Control Group 71.19 ± 9.91 72.18 ± 9.22 –1.107
t 0.969 5.932**
Y. Ge et al. / Health 3 (2011) 462-466
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. Openly accessible at http://www.scirp.org/journal/HEALTH/
Note: *p < 0.05; **p < 0.01; ***p < 0.001.
paying attention to me, which makes me become confi-
dent and do something energetically.”
4) More positive emotional experience:
“I am potential, and I have abilities to care and help
“In fact, hurt sometimes can make people grow and
act as an alarm bell which reminds me and spurs me on
not doing the same things.”
4.1. Quantitative Data Analysis
From the general findings of the study, the partici-
pants of the experimental group after the campus psy-
chodrama intervention have improved their interpersonal
trust level and reduced social avoidance and distress.
Compared with the control group, the experimental
group shows significant differences in the total scores of
interpersonal trust an d those of predictability, reliability.
In the early stage, the group members had low interper-
sonal trust levels, and they rarely participated in group
activities. However, group life is essential to the growth
of human beings, and the growth of individuals has close
relationship with development of their groups. If one
person loses communication opportunities with others
for long period, feelings of emptiness, depression and
disappointment will haunt him/her. As a result, his/her
interpersonal trust level can not be improved and would
even be degraded [11,12]. The campus psychodrama
workshop established a group, providing a platform for
those students with low trust levels to develop their in-
terpersonal skills and giving them an emotional expe-
rience of happiness in activities.
Predictability in the Interp ersonal Trust Scale refers to
the capability of predicting specific behaviors of our
peers, including both the favorable and unfavorable be-
haviors. Reliability refers that people can unconditional-
ly trust that their companions will continue to take re-
sponsibility and care for them [7]. The experimental
group made remarkable improvement in the results on
these two dimensions. These results indicate that campus
psychodrama played a positive and contagious role by
providing an opportunity and a platform to change par-
ticipants’ cognition through experiencing emotional
feelings or behavior reactions with spontaneous and vo-
luntary performances of participants [13]. First of all, it
creates an interactive scene, in which the parties in the
campus psychodrama can play freely without the restric-
tion in the real life situations. Secondly, psychodrama
has similarity with the specific situations in the campus
life, so mental troub les can be re vealed on e by on e along
the development of the plot. Characters in the play can
easily get rid of obstacles, and express and act naturally
because they are immersed by the scenes. Furthermore,
there are no criteria of right or wrong in performing, but
tolerance, understanding and enlightenment. There are
no requirements for acting skills but emphases on par-
ticipation and self-expression. Under the atmosphere of
appreciation and understanding, members are led to ex-
press and feel different kinds of interpersonal experience
openly, break the border of possibility or impossibility,
right or wrong and beauty or ugliness from the original
concepts and experience more enjoyment of success.
Certainly, such performance and acceptance are not
purposeless, for group counseling has its educational
goals to help members build correct cognition, attitudes
and behaviors by teaching them how to obtain right in-
formation, driving them to discuss the possibilities of
conflict settlement and leading them through important
experiences of life. The group provides scenes for the
members to try new behaviors and change their existing
behaviors. The group also tries to help rectify the mem-
bers [12]. The campus psychodrama workshop creates a
safe, open and tolerate group and guides members to
observe in the group, get familiar with habits of the
group and feel the care from the group. Meanwhile, it
helps members get rid of misconduct, learn new and
effective behavior patterns, improve interaction with
people, and reduce social avoidance and distress.
4.2. Qualitative Mechanism Analysis
1) Enhance self-awareness and perceiving for things
during the performance.
Performance is the demonstration and epitome of the
human nature. During the intervention process of the test,
members conducted purposeful performances which also
happened in real life on the stage. There were no right or
wrong criteria, and the performers were able to perform
and interpret the plays freely. Experiencing helped them
get rid of unfavorable feelings such as distrust, boredom,
helplessness and sadness, and establish a group of mu-
tual assistance, pleasure, dynamics, enlightenment and
trustworthiness. After the group entered the work (per-
formance) phase, the group leader changed from an ac-
tive guide to a facilitator, supporter and data provider
behind the scenes, in order to make individuals know
more clear about their own behaviors and change their
behaviors. The group experience provided members with
the opportunity of discussing different ways for solving
problems, made members feel the insights from their
emotional release in the performance and enhance their
understanding of them sel ves and the surroundi ngs [14,15].
2) Role reversal and metal position conversion.
During the performance, each group member drew
Y. Ge et al. / Health 3 (2011) 462-466
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. Openly accessible at http://www.scirp.org/journal/HEALTH/
others’ attention and care about theirs, as they appre-
ciated their own emotion and thought about that of oth-
ers. The role reversal made the members reconsider
events in their life in different roles. A healthy interper-
sonal relationship was formed in the role-play, because
the performer experienced the joys and sorrows of the
role’s inner world, his/her metal position was conv ersed,
put themselves in others’ shoes to explore their beha-
viors in depth and the impact of their behaviors on others,
with improved mutual understanding of roles[16] .
3) A favorable atmosphere among group members al-
lowing alternative experiential learning.
In the group context, th e emotio n al and interactiv e ties
among members not only influenced the development of
the group but also sti mulated members to be more open .
In the group’s harmonious atmosphere, members identi-
fied each other and developed a sense of intimacy and
dependence, allowing the members to learn how to ad-
just their mood through proper use of reasoning, transfer,
sublimation and catharsis, improve the communicative
methods positively, and correctly express their favorable
impression of others, listen attractively to others and
exchange their mental transpositio n [17].
In the study, the campus psychodrama workshop pro-
vided the participants with problem solutions from vari-
ous perspectives in an atmosphere of tolerance, accep-
tance and support, and avoided confinement to limited
perspectives and stereotypes. Participants were enabled
to freely and actively identify mature and effective ways
from activities to deal with problems, help each other,
release or control emotion, gradually learn new beha-
viors through imitation, and finally try to migrate the
new behaviors into the real life [18].
The scores on the dimensions of predictability, relia-
bility and on the total scale of interpersonal trust have
improved significantly. Results have shown that campus
psychodrama is an effective approach of group counsel-
ing for improving the interpersonal trust of college stu-
dents and positively reducing their social avoidance and
This study was supported by the fund of College Students Experi-
mental Project “Intervention Study of Education and Counseling with
Campus Psychodrama” at Chongqing University of Arts and Sciences
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