Date of Award


Degree Type



Education and Human Services

First Advisor

Welfel, Elizabeth

Subject Headings

Obesity in women, Overweight women, Ethnicity, Psychoanalysts -- Attitudes, Psychotherapist and patient, Prejudices, therapist bias weight bias feminism client characteristics ethnicity


Although anti-fat bias and discrimination have been widely documented (see Puhl, Andreyeva, & Brownell, 2008), few studies have examined whether psychologists exhibit biases toward clients who are fat. Only one study (Locker, 2011) examined whether client characteristics of ethnicity and weight influenced therapists' bias no studies have exclusively examined psychologists. This analogue study investigated psychologists' biases toward a hypothetical client (vignette adapted from Zadroga, 2009) when the client characteristics of weight (average/obese) and ethnicity (African American/European American) were manipulated. Participants in this study included a national sample of 194 licensed, currently practicing psychologists. A 2 (client weight) x 2 (client ethnicity) randomized experimental design was utilized. Participants' biases were determined by Global Assessment of Functioning scores, prognosis scores, and scores from an adapted version of the Working Alliance Inventory (see Burkard, 1997) Therapist form (WAI-TA Horvath & Greenberg, 1989). A 2 x 2 factorial MANOVA indicated no statistically significant differences according to according to vignette client weight [F(1, 192) = 1.46, p = 0.23], vignette client ethnicity [F(1, 192) = 0.77, p = 0.51], or weight by ethnicity interaction [F(1, 192) = 0.28, p = 0.85]. Results, implications, and limitations were discussed, along with suggestions for further research

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