Sex and Cult Affiliation Biases in the Diagnosis of Dependent and Narcissistic Personality Disorders: An Empirical Investigation

by McKibben, Jodi B.

Abstract (Summary)
Numerous research investigations have been conducted to assess if the sex of either the client or the clinician has an influence on clinicians' assessments of mental health disorders (specifically, personality disorders). The present study seeks to evaluate whether or not a client's sex and/or cult affiliation status has an effect on a clinician’s formulation of correct diagnoses. In other words, would an assessment sex or cult affiliation bias be detected? Eighteen hundred male and female members of the American Psychological Association were each presented with a case study describing either a male or a female who was either a cult member, a cult leader, or had no cult affiliation status. Further, the case study described symptoms meeting the diagnostic criteria for either dependent personality disorder (DPD) or narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), and no other disorder. The clinicians were asked to evaluate various diagnoses regarding the extent of their applicability to the case presented. A total of 472 useable surveys were returned. The results indicated that both the sex and the cult affiliation status of the case affected the percentage of correct diagnoses assigned for both the DPD and NPD cases. The assignment of the correct diagnosis for the NPD cases was also affected by the sex of the respondent. As expected, the results showed that when cult affiliation was not a factor, females were more likely to be assigned a DPD diagnosis than were males, and that males were more likely to receive a NPD diagnosis than were females. The specific findings for the cult affiliation cases, however, were far more complex. This study has provided evidence for assessment sex and cult affiliation bias for both DPD and NPD. As such, factors aside from the client’s symptoms appear to affect diagnostic decisions and a stronger adherence to the DSM, perhaps through the use of semistructured interviews and self-report inventories, is recommended. Furthermore, future research should be conducted to further understand the nature of such biases.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Ohio University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:bias diagnoses diagnostic survey gender cultic


Date of Publication:01/01/2003

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