Assessing Clinical Psychologists’ Clinical Gender Bias with Male Clients in Psychological Therapy

Sam Murrell

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Men demonstrate high rates of suicide, homelessness, and substance misuse (NHS Digital, 2020; ONS, 2020). An unmet male mental health need explains these trends (Magovcevic & Addis, 2008). The Western male gender role, termed “traditional masculinity”, prescribes men to be strong and self-reliant which opposes therapeutic processes (Johnson et al., 2012; Mahalik et al., 2003b; Rice et al., 2017). Therapists’ own beliefs about gender roles have been found to bias clinical practice with male clients, termed “clinical gender bias” (Mintz & O’Neil, 1990; Wisch & Mahalik, 1999). The current study aims to measure Clinical Psychologists’ beliefs about gender roles to examine if they predict their clinical appraisals of male clients with different masculinities, measuring the presence of clinical gender bias. 113 Clinical Psychologists clinically appraised three depressed client vignettes: one male rejecting traditional masculinity, one male expressing traditional masculinity and a genderless client with no gender role expression. They completed self-report and implicit measures of beliefs about gender roles. Parametric and non-parametric tests were used to see if self-reported beliefs about gender roles predicted implicit gender bias, to compare clinical appraisals between vignettes, to see if Clinical Psychologists’ beliefs about gender roles predicted their clinical appraisals and to explore whether beliefs about gender roles differed between genders, ages, and clinical experience. Clinical Psychologists generally rejected traditional gender roles and demonstrated a mild implicit gender bias. Self-reported beliefs about gender roles did not predict implicit gender bias. The male client expressing traditional masculinity received the most negative appraisals with Clinical Psychologists’ beliefs about gender roles significantly predicting their clinical appraisals, therefore providing evidence for the presence of clinical gender bias. Older Clinical Psychologists rejected stereotyping of men’s emotions significantly more and males scored significantly lower implicit gender bias. Support for existing evidence is stated with clinical practice and future research recommendations discussed.
Original languageEnglish
  • Fowke, Alex, Supervisor
Award date23 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2021

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