Date of Award
Doctor of Education
Counseling and Personnel
Dr. Kenneth Bullmer
Dr. Avner Stern
Dr. Sid Dykstra
The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between a patient's first name (desirable versus undesirable) and the clinical judgment of psychopathology by mental health professionals. Specifically, this study examined how a patient's first name affected the diagnosis of maladjustment.
A total of 266 mental health professionals viewed a standardized video taped interview with a patient. Through the analysis of two surveys, the following first names were randomly presented with the viewed patient: Christopher, David, Mortimer and Junior. It was found, at the .00001 level of probability, that when the patient possessed the less desirable first name of Mortimer or Junior, the patient was diagnosed more psychopathologically disturbed than when the patient possessed the more desirable first name of David or Christopher. Additional analyses were performed comparing the patient's first name and the mental health professionals' highest academic degree, program of study, years of experience and gender on the rating of psychopathology. These findings were discussed in terms of the process of formulating inaccurate perceptions based upon stereotypes and trait attributions.
In light of the results obtained from this study, recommendations were made in regards to the training and preparation of future mental health professionals. In addition, the need for currently practicing mental health professionals to become more aware of the implicit perceptual theory which governs their perceptual formulations and the variables which may lead to perceptual errors were also discussed.
Cowan, Dennis G., "The Perceptual Effect of Patients' First Name on the Clinical Judgment of Psychopathology by Psychotherapists" (1983). Dissertations. 2429.