Oh G-d, A Borderline: Clinical Diagnostics As Fundamental Attribution Error Page: 19
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of participants assigned a diagnosis. In contrast, those clinicians told that the man in the same
recording was "psychotic" gave a diagnosis of some type of psychotic disorder; specifically, 88%
of clinical psychology graduate students, 88% of professional clinical psychologists, and 100%
of psychiatrists in the sample endorsed a diagnosis of a psychotic disorder. It is apparent that
clinicians too are susceptible to the actor-observer bias; one clinician when asked why he had
assigned the diagnoses pointed out that he had been told by a mental health authority figure that
the man in the tape was psychotic, thus he gave a diagnosis (Temerlin, 1969).
There is evidence that clinicians adhering to some theoretical orientations are more
susceptible to the FAE than others. Psychodynamically oriented therapists were more likely than
their behaviorally oriented counterparts to engage in attribution bias when a client was referred
to as a "patient" rather than a "job applicant" (Langer & Ableson, 1974; Snyder, 1977).
Psychodynamically oriented therapies tend to focus heavily on diagnosis, whereas behavioral
approaches do not. Though, in fairness, psychodynamically oriented therapies do place an
emphasis on historical contextual factors; it is the supposed internalization into personality
characteristics of historical events that is particularly questionable when those personality
variables begin to take precedence over current contextual variables. Although no similar
research design has been applied, cognitive-behavioral therapists may also be at particular risk of
making excessive dispositional inferences because the underlying mechanistic philosophy of
cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) tends to focus more on content of thoughts and less on the
contextual function of those thoughts (Ciarrochi & Bailey, 2008).
Hopeful findings suggest that once the FAE is recognized as an ongoing occurrence
education about this phenomenon and training techniques oriented towards emphasizing the role
of the environment decrease commission of the FAE among both clinicians (Chen, Froehle &
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Schmalz, Jonathan. Oh G-d, A Borderline: Clinical Diagnostics As Fundamental Attribution Error, thesis, December 2011; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc103389/m1/25/: accessed May 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .