Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Beverly J. Vandiver

Second Advisor

Dr. Joseph R. Morris

Third Advisor

Dr. Evelyn B. Winfield-Thomas


Implicit bias, bogus feedback, aversive racism, passive and negative feedback, counselors in training, multicultural counseling


The purpose of this study was to examine whether bogus cultural feedback influenced the presence of implicit racial bias in the clinical judgment of counselors-in-training. Participants were 193 master’s-level counselors-in-training, in which the majority were Caucasian women (57%). Three hypotheses guided the study. The first hypothesis focused on the influence of priming positive and negative feedback about cultural attitudes on a clinical case, regardless of the race or clarity of the case. The second and third hypotheses both focused on racial bias by examining the interaction between type of feedback, race, and ambiguity of diagnosis on participants’ clinical impressions of a client. Participants’ received bogus feedback (i.e., positive, negative, no feedback) on their completion of the Quick Discrimination Index (Ponterotto et al., 2002). Participants were than randomly assigned a clinical case that differed in race (African American or Caucasian) and diagnostic clarity (clear or ambiguous). Thus, a 3 (type of feedback) x 2 (race of vignette) x 2 (clarity of vignette) between subjects experimental design was used. After viewing one of the 12 vignettes, participants’ clinical judgment was assessed with six questions created for this study. The trainees were asked to rate a specific vignette on the following areas: (a) severity, (b) urgency of care, (c) motivation towards therapy, (d) likelihood to remain in counseling, and (e) expected progress. These questions served as the dependent variables. All three hypotheses were tested with a one-way MANOVA on the linear composite of the five dependent variables, with feedback, race, and clarity of the vignettes as factors. None of the hypotheses were supported, but a main effect for feedback was found. A discriminant descriptive analysis, as a follow-up to the MANOVA, was statistically significant, with severity, urgency of care, and likelihood to remain in counseling contributing most to the variate; this variate was labeled in Need of Mental Health Care. Participants who received positive feedback rated their vignettes less severe and in need of less mental health care than participants who received negative feedback.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access