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Several research reports point to benefits of the est trljlnlng. Behauiordyne (t 973)1: lJarious Psychological

Several research reports point to benefits of the est


Behauiordyne (t 973)1: lJarious Psychological ImproLJements

In 1972, Behaviordyne, an independent research firm , was engaged to conduct psychological studies to determine the psychological impact of the est training and tww long it lasted. Tt1e 227 persons participating in the

July 1972 est training ,vere the experimental subjects for nle stUdy. Prior

to taking the training, the subjects were administered the California Psych010gica1 In'~entory (CPI), consisting of 480 items, measuring 141 psychologice1 dimem ~. ion!;;. The Callfornie Psychological Inventory (CPI) is a

wi de1y researched end respe.cted measurement of eff eet i ve beh8vi or.

After comcdetion of the traininq. the participants were contacted for retesting : j 44 participated . Ttu-ee months after O-Ie traininq, a fol1o'vYup

retesting WaS conducted, and 93 of the training participants 'vvere react-led

and participated. Comparative analyses of those 'who continued to perticipate in the stUdy v'lith those who did not showed fe'N significent dHfe.rences bet"Neen the two groups--es measured in the initial testing.

A cont.t-ol group of 200 SUbjects, matched with those particlpljUng in

H-Ie est training

were administered the CPI at the three times it was given to the

experimental group.

significant ct1anges on the CPI scales , the control group showed none .

in terms of 8ge , sex, and vocational and economic variables

V hile

tile experimental subjects showed many.

I Murray Tondo't/, Ron Teague, Joseph Finney , and Gross Lemaistre, "A Report on Psychological Changes Measured After Taking the Erhard Seminars Training," San Francisco: Behaviordyne, 1973

Overa 11, more S1 gnlfi cant erltmges were found emong \·vomen trion

among men

significantly on 76 and men on 26 . Both men and women increosed si gnifi cant! y, for examp Ie, on "Basi c Trust, Confi denee I elnd Opt i mi sm."

Of tile 141 sceles measured by the CPI , wornen impt-oved

Both men and women decreosed significently on the following scales (among others):

Dependency urge Di seouragernent Anxiety Bitterness Resentment/hostiIi ty Blaming self Phobi a and fear Teking thlngs out on self Social introversion

v·lorry and obsession Guilt feelinQs Feeling sorry for self Suppression end outbursts of hostilit~ Dependent masochi sm

The reS8atTr-ters summarized their findings as follows:

", . T~le overriding finding of Hie study was that measurable changes in personality occur as the result of the EST training.

"2. These changes continue to manifest themselves

three months Mter the trllining hilS ended

"3. i"1ore changes were noted for the female participant.

Ulan for Ule male in the study.

"4. The psychological picture that emerges is that of a ~Iappier and psycho Iogi eElII y sounder person"

lemis (1916)2: long-Term Psyrhologiral ImproLlements

The primary purpose of the Lewis study was to determine if the changes discovered in the Behaviordyne study persisted over a longer period of time. In 1974, Lewis mailed the CPI questionnaire to the 87 est subjects who participated in all three testings of the Behoviordyne study; 34 were reElched and pert i ci peted in the 18-month (011 owup study.

While the number studied in the 18-month followllp are relatively small, the study is of interest in that it offers the longest-term evaluation of the training's impact through an experimental design.

The o'~erell findings of the Lewis followup were that the psychological improvements found among est graduates three months after the training persisted after 18 months. lewis summarized her findings:

"The picture thl'lt emerges is that of a person who continues to be psychologically sounder since the est training."

Weiss (1911)3: ImprolJements in Self-Concept and Rutonomy

The purpose of this stUdy was to examine personality changes in est grl'ldul'ltes following their pl'lrttcip/jtton in the tr/jining. The prim/jr!:j instruments used were the Self-Concept Incongruency Scele (SCIS) end the t'looney Problem Check List (~1PCU.

Participants in the June 1976 est training in Newport Beach, California, were selected as the est SUbjects (or the study, 77 of whom completed questionnaires before and after the training. As a control group,

2Leileni Lewis, "Erhard Seminars Training: A Psychological Study of Its Psychological Effects, Using Selected Scales Measured by the California Psycho I ogi ea I Inventory .," Ph.D. di ssertati on, The Cal i f orni a School of Professional Psychology, 1976.

3Jeffrey A. ~/eiss, -Reported Changes in Personality, Self Concept, and Personal Problems Following Erhard Seminars Training (est), _ Ph.D. di ssertat i on, The ea I if orni a School of Prof essi ana I Psycho logy, 1977.

Wel ss usea J El peopl e wrro nad enroll ed earl y for We NovemDer 1975

trai ni ng in Newport


In this study design, \rleiss guarded against the possibility that the kind of people who enrolled in the est training might be ready for and committed to personal improvement and thM tmy observed improvements

would have occurred even if they did not participate in the training.

were the case , Weiss's control group should improve prior to actually taking

the trai ni ng.

If Hlis

Wei ss's anal ysi s of hi s data reveal ed a number of statist i call y significant differences in the changes observed among the est and control group SUbjects. Here are some of his findings:

• The distress scale scores of est subjects decreosed by 32


4 percent.

whereas the control group subJects' scores only decreased

• Self-Concept .ncongruence (the discrepancy between who

people INant to be and who they feel they are) IN8S substantially reduced among those taking the est training--e 44 percent decrease in scal e scores--as opposed to a 5 percent decrease in the scores of the control group.

• Tr,e est SUbjects increosed their scale scores on outonomy tty 57 percent, 'v'v't",ereas the scores of the control group increased by 17 percent.

The increased autonomy of those taki ng the est trai ni ng was 81 so reflected in other results. Several other scales in Weiss 's stUdy measured changes in subjects' needs for a variety of psychological supports from SOCiety. Overall, the est sut1jects showed less need for such supports after H-,e training. and Hie shifts found among ttle est subjects were significantly

different from stlifts found f:Jrnonq n,e control qroup.



lindberg (1978)4:

Increases in Internallofus of Control

The purpose of Hie LindDerg et al study was to determine wtleUler est graduates differed from others in terms of their "locus of control." Internol control refers to the view thBt the individual determines his or her O\f/n life , whereas external control refers to the view that individuals' lots in life are the effect of environmental conditions . To measure the two orientEltions, the researchers employed a modified version of the Rotter Inter-na I-Externa I Control Scale.

The study was conducted in Hawaii, with a sample of 100 est

graduates living there. 50 who were currently active in est progr-arns and 50

\'vho were not.

sele cted from est records . For a control group, the researchers asked each est SUbject "to obtain the cooperation of a friend who was not an est graduate, but who was much 1i ke the graduate, of the same sex, and si mi I ar age, educaUonal and occupational levels ."

Probability samples from these two subpopulations 'vvere

Sixty-seven of trle 100 est SUbjects completed questionnaires, as dilj 39 of the contro I group sub j ects . A compari son of the two gr-oups of SUbjects found no significant differences in age, sex, or ethnicity .

On the whole, Lindberg et al found the est respondents significantly more internal than the non-est control group. (No significant differences were found among those est SUbjects who were active in subsequent est programs and those wtw were not.)

For example, the est sample 'vvere more likely than the controls to agree \'vi 0-1 staternents like these:

"The average cit i zen can have an i nfl uence in government decisions."

"By taking an active part in political end social affairs tt",e people can control worllj events"

4MarJene A. Lindberg, George P. Danko, and Ronald C. Jormson, "Est Exper-ier.~e

and Locus of Contro 1," Uni versity of Ha\A/ai i : unpub I i shed

1978 .

By the stlme token , the est sample were more likely Hlort trle corttro l ~; to disagree with statements like these:

"Th i s world i s run by the few people in power, and there is not much the Ii tt Je guy can do about it.·

"As far as world affairs are concerned, most of us are the victims of forces we can neHher understand nor control "

Hartke (1980)5: Positiue Impact on [go Deuelopment

Hartke's interest was in examining the impact of the est training on

ego development level. Eighty-six people taking 8 stfmdard est training

agreed to participate in the stUdy.

the training, two weeks after, and three months after.

Completion Test was used to measure ego development level, as scored by the Automatic Total Protocol Rating paradigm.

Subjects were tested two weeks prior to

Loevinger's Sentence

Although Hartke notes that "Loevinger's theory conceives of ego development as a stable master trait, not easily influenced by brief training or educational experiences,· his research results indicated that hSignificant increFlses in ego development level were found both immediately following trle training and several months later."

Simon (1918)6: Positiue I mpact on Psychotherapy Patients

Some studies have focussed on the impact of the est training on psychotherapy patients. This report presents a clinical analysis of sixty-

seven of Simon's therapy

Simon's analyses are devoted to the 49 patients who took the training while

patients who had taken the est

training . Most of

5John Martin Harke, ·Ego Development, Cognitive Style, and the EST Standard Training ,h Ph .D. dissertation, Temple University, 1980.

6,Justin Simon , ·Observations on 67 Patients Who Took Erhard Seminars

Tra i ning," A.I7?BnCfJ/'JjOt/rlJfJ/ofPs!/c/JifJtr!/, Vol. 135 , NO.6, 686-691 , 1978 .

in therapy wiU, him after the training.

so he was able to observe their condition before and

Thirty (61 percent) of the 49 patients showed E1 positive response, 19 were unchanged, and none got worse . As Simon reports, positive effects of the training were more common and more dramatic among patients with less severe prob I ems

Paul/Paul (1978)7: Positiue Impact on Psychotherapy Patients

Norman and Betty Paul are therapists with a family-focussed

orientetion . This is e clinicel report on 145 patients who took the est

trelining while in family-focussed therapy with

Norman Paul.

The est trai ni ng and f arnll y-f ocussed therapy were

found to be

mutually reinforcing, especially with respect to patients taking

responsibility for tt,eir own lives. The researchers summarized their

conclusions as fo11ov'/s:

The EST training represents a destigmatized atternpt to transcend the emotional linlitations of life so rampant today~ and bring bock to the individual some semblance of participation in his own existence.

In the search For the appropriate array of expe.-iences and the phaSing of diFFerent ones~ the EST training experience looms as on exciting entity which can be coordinated with Family-Focussed tr-eatnlent so as to provide individuals and members of their families~ who have been seen in family and muJtipJe-fanlily therapy~ with on additional experience ~ the EST training setting~ wherein they con become related to the brooder community.

7Norrnen L. Paul and Betty Byfi e1d Paul,

'The Use of EST as Adjunct i ve

Therapy to Family-Focussed Treatment, N L/O{lrne/ of l"Ierri8ge olJdFom//j/

{(i//"7SPJJ;n,g, ,.January, 51-61 J


Hamsher (1980)8: PositiLJe Impact on Psychotherapists and Patients

To learn about mental health professionals' experience of the est training , Hamsher, a psychotherapist and professor of psychology , mailed questionnaires to 725 psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and other menta 1 hea lth workers i denti fi ed as such in the est records. The 242 respondents 8ver8ged nearly 10 years of experience in the field and saw EI total of 4777 patients a week . Ninety-five percent of the respondents said the tr8ining r,ad a positive impact in their personal lives, and nine in ten said it had a positive

impact on

their ability to do therapy successfully .

The 242 mental health professionals in Hamsher's stUdy reported that a total of 1739 of their patients had taken the est training . When asked to 8ssess the impact of the training on those patients' therapy, 93 percent said it was positive.

Of the 1739 pat i ents who had taken the est trai ni n~t 163 had been /10spitalized at some time prior to the training. Hamsher's survey found that tl10se patients were much less likely to be hospitalized aftenvard . Se venty-three percent of the pati ents were reported to have had no hospitalizations after the training, 20 percent had fewer hospitaJizetions than before, 7 percent had the same number as before, and none had more hospitalizations after the training than before.

Knight-Meyers (1982)9: Positiue Impact on Psychotherapists

Another, smaller-scale stUdy also pOlnts to the positive impact of the est training on the practice of psychotherapy . Knight-Meyers' specific

3Herb Harnsrler, "Study of est Graduate t1ental Health Professionals unpublished. 1960. [Note : Althougrl full details of nlis study are not

available , I have reported on it, since it rlas been cited by Finkelstein (see

belovi) and others.]

9Barbara Kni ght -Meyers, "Shi fts in the Countertransference Percepti ons of Selected Psychotherapists Undergoing Est Self-Awareness Training," Ph .D.


University of Pennsylvania, 1982 .

interest was in whether the training would affect therapists' t'Hmdling of the problem of countertransference: Nt he unconscious projection of the therapist's unresolved personal issues into the treatment."

To examine this Question, she undertook case studies of 15 psychotherapists, enrolled in an est training in the Northeast US . She administered a structured interview schedule three different times, the last being three months after the training.

Fourteen of the fifteen SUbjects reported decreases in their feelings of frustration with their Nmost frustrating clientsN following the training. Thirteen of the fifteen, moreover, reported that they were more satisfied with the progress of those "most frustrating clients.-

Ornstein (J 975)1 0: R National Survey of est Graduates

In 1973, Dr. Robert Ornstein. a nationally-noted psychologist and a

team of social scientists conducted a national survey of est graduates. A probabi Ii ty sample of 2,000 graduetes was selected was among the 12.000 people who had completed the training as of that time. A lengthy Questionnaire--containing 680 Questions--was mailed to each member of

the sample.


Of the 1895 Questionnaires that were deJjyerable, 1258 were initially returned . Of the nonrespondents. 60 were selected for telephone interviewing and the remainder were sent a shorter Questionnaire. Fifty- four of the telephone interviews were completed, and 153 of the shorter Questionnaires were returned. Ultimately, then, 1465 of the 1895 possible respondents--77 percent --responded to the survey . Moreover, as a comparison of the initial 1258 respondents with those interviewed by telephone and those completing the shorter Questionnaire revealed no significant differences, suggesting little or no nonresponse bias overall.

10Robert Ornstein, Charles Swencionis. Arthur Deikman. and Ralph Morris, "A Self-Report Survey: Preliminary Study of Participants in Erhard Seminars Training," report to The est Foundation, 1975.

Tt1e Ornstein study was reported prl

subsequent! y reanal yzed and reported pub 1i c1Y by Babbi e and Stone (see

belo 'r,;).


to the sponsor. T~le data set wcs

Babbie/Stone (1977) 11:

I mprouemenfs in

Uarious Rreas of Life

In 1976 , Babbie and Stone reanalyzed

the data from the Ornstein

survey and presented their findings to the 1976 meetings of the American

Psychiatric Association, in a paper entitled ·Psychiatry and Large Scale

AINareness Trai ni ng Groups ." An edi ted versi on in Bi asci ences Communi cat ions .

of thei r paper was pub 1i shed

Respondents to the Ornstei n sur

ey were asked "A 11 in all, hOY- do you

feeJ about your experience of the training?" and gi

("Very unfa

the Ques ti on . The vast rna j ority reported f a


a scaJe ranging from 1

orable )

to 7 ("Very favorable") for recording their answer to


1e experi ences of the

trEJininQ, as reported below:

Very favorable














Very unfavorable


11 Earl Babbi e Elnd Dona 1d Stone , "An Eva1 uat i on of the est Experi ence by a

National Sample of Graduate s," 123-140, 1977.

B/OSC/Bl')c BsCommi/f}/c titiof}s, Vol. 3, No . 2,

In addition to reporUng their overall experiences of the training, the respondents were asked to report on various aspects of their life since taking the training and were Elsked to compare their condition Elfter the training v'lith their condition before it: whether things hEld gotten worse, remained unchanged , or gotten better. They responded as follows:




Productivity in job or schoolwork





Relationships with family and friends





Sexual relationships

7 %



Finding more meaning in life





Improved mental







Wt1ile these findings do not proye that the chemges experienced were due to n,e est trai ni ng--nor wer-e respondents asked that --thei r responses should be viewed in U-,e context of whot might have been expected if U-,ey

hdd not tElken H,8 est traininq and/or if it hEld no qeneral pElttern of impact. In that case, we should reasonably expect that some people's lives v't'ould heve gotten worse over time, some would have gotten better, and others wou1d have stayed about the same--in the various areas asked about. Moreover, it would seem reasonable to assume that about equal numbers would S8~ "worse" or "better." In the survey, however, far more respondents

sai d tr,ei r lives

no impact, thus adding to the weight of evidence that the training produces benefits for those taking it.




than waul d haye been expected if the trai ni ng had

In their reanalysis of the Ornstein data, Babbie and Stone raised a Question as to the qualifications of the survey respondents to m8ke

jUdgrnents such as those asked for . Were they really qualified to eVllluete

thelr "mental health

for example?

To anSVv'8r- H-ds Question, thew examinelj seperatelw t! panel of "experts" 'vvho stwuJd be qualified to judge each of U-,e areas asked about.

For ei;arnple, U.,ey e>~3mined the way mental health professionals among the

samp 1e answered the quest i on about

'1\ 1 8re examined with regard to the question on the "meaning of life"



menta I health . [1 ergy and educ8tor~;


arl 8ab b i e

Research on est

Page J J

Engineers and salespeople were examlned w1th regard to proauctlV1ty , and so forH!.

In eelch case , the Mexperts" were at leest as likely as the totel semple to say the area inquest i on had gotten better. I n some cases, the -experts"

reported more positive results.

health professionals said their mental health r,ad improved--compared to 83

percent of the total sample

For example, 96 percent of the mentel


The severa l studies reviewed above provide

a weight of evidence

warranting the conclusion that the est training is a source of substantlaJ benefit for the vast majority of those wr,o par-ticipate in it. 'w'hile no single study is without its meUl0dological shortcomings (which is true of research in Qenerai), U,e collection of studies reviewed above compliment each oUler.

That is, the shortcomings of one stUdy are dealt with in others. This process of "triangulation" is a common strategy in social science where it is often impossible to satisfy all methodological considerations in a single study.