EFFECTS OF FEMALE CLIENT PHYSICAL ATTRACTIVENESS1 ON CLINICAL JUDGMENT

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Abstract

The effects of a female client's physical attractiveness on male psychotherapy trainees' clinical judgments were examined. Physical attractiveness (attractive or unattractive) and severity of client presenting problem (mild or severe test anxiety) were factorially varied within a 2 × 2 between subjects design. Subjects rendered several social and clinical reactions to a 4½ minute videotape of an excerpt of a simulated intake interview. Results did not reveal an overwhelming pattern of prejudice against the relatively unattractive client. However, she was regarded as more likely to terminate therapy prematurely and received fewer relationship-building responses than her identically portrayed but physically attractive counterpart. An hypothesis that the negative effects of physical attractiveness would be more robust in the more severe presenting problem condition was not supported. Implications for training are discussed.

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