May 19, 2011

Results of the mini-survey on solution-focused assumptions

Some time ago, I defined a list of 9 assumptions of solution-focused change:


About people:
About change:
About helping:


By clicking the links you can read more about what is meant by and what is behind these assumptions. Between brackets you find desciptive labels for each of the assumptions.

Solution-focused assumptions survey
Last week I made a survey to get some feedback on this list of assumptions. My primary goal was to find out to what extent readers of my blog agreed with each of these assumptions. 134 people took the survey (50 took the English version, 84 took the Dutch version).

The respondents were asked to say to which agree they agreed with the 9 statements on the following 5 point-scale: 1) strongly disagree, 2) disagree, 3) neither agree nor disagree, 4) agree, 5) strongly agree. An exploratory factor analysis on the assumptions variables was done in an attempt to reduce to the 9 variables into a smaller set of factors. This was not the case. A one-factor solution emerged which explained 55% of the variance. Cronbach's alpha over these 9 variables was .90, which suggests these items might together be used as an internally consistent scale.

General level of agreement with the assumptions
The following graph shows the mean level of agreement with the 9 assumptions:


Influence of length of experience and exclusivity of use
The survey also checked 1) the length of experience with the solution-focused approach, and the 2) how intensively the solution-focused approach was used. The purpose of these questions was to check my expectation that the longer people and more exclusively people used the approach the more they would agree with each of the statements. The graph below visualizes how length of experience influenced the level of agreement with the statements:


Between length of experience and level of agreement with the solution-focused assumptions significant Pearson's correlations (p< .05) were found except for assumption 3 (need for relatedness) and assumption 5 (stepwise change). The graph below visualizes how exclusivity of use influenced the level of agreement with the statements:

Between exclusivity of use and level agreement with the solution-focused assumptions significant Pearson's correlations (p< .05) were found.

Influence of professional role
Further it was checked whether professional roles of respondents influenced their level of agreement with the assumptions. The graph below shows difference of agreement between people in managerial roles vs. people in non-managerial roles:


The only significant difference was found for assumption 9 (focus on what works). People in managerial role agreed much less with this assumption than people in non-managerial roles. The graph below shows difference of agreement between people in the role of a coach vs. people in the role of therapist:

While this graph shows some differences, none of these were significant.

Discussion
The high level of overall agreement with the 9 assumptions indicates that the assumptions suggests that the assumptions were clearly defined. That exclusivity of use of the solution-focused approach correlated significantly with levels of agreement for all of the 9 assumptions suggests that these variables effectively describe a solution-focused mindset. This is further supported by the fact that length of experience and level of agreement correlated significantly with levels of agreement for all of but two of the 9 assumptions (3, need for relatedness, and 5, stepwise change). The fact that factor analysis revealed a one-factor solution consisting of all 9 variables and explaining 55% of the variance and Cronbach's alpha over these 9 variables was .90, suggest these items might together be used as an internally consistent scale measuring a solution-focused mindset.

Few differences in the levels of agreement were found between people with different professional roles. No significant differences were found between coaches and therapists. Only one significant difference was found between managers and non-managers, namely on assumption 9 (focus on what works). For some reason, which is not clear, managers agreed much less with assumption 9 than non-managers. That managers and non-managers agree on all other assumptions seems to support the idea that the solution-focused view on people, change and helping may be useful for managers. Due to the small sample size and the non-randomness of the sample the generalizability of these results is limited. However, the findings are encouraging and seem useful as a basis for future studies. 

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