Oh G-d, A Borderline: Clinical Diagnostics As Fundamental Attribution Error Page: 31
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than situational ones (Gilibert & Banovic, 2009; Snyder, 1977).
The experimental preparation of this study emphasized external validity in an attempt to
better generalize attribution theory to clinical research. As a result the theory was arguably
pushed to its extreme. To my knowledge, no previous study of attribution theory has used as
extreme of client behavior in the experimental stimuli as this study. As an example, in Temerlin's
(1969) study all participants listened to the same audio recording of a man partaking in an
interview that involved no behavior that was clinical in nature. Considering the transcript of the
video interaction stimulus (Appendix B), the Client clearly behaves in a very evocative and
clinical fashion, exhibiting behavior and statements highly consistent with BPD. Again, this
approach was intentional in an attempt to increase external validity; clinicians are likely to
experience these behaviors from a client with a diagnosis of BPD. However, the intensity of the
Client's behavior may have had two unintended effects.
First, such extreme behavior in and of itself can be confusing for anyone, and consistent
with FAE literature, dispositional assessments are likely to be made in an attempt to understand
the extreme behavior presented. Second, because the behavior was so apparently consistent with
a BPD diagnosis, it is probable that participants, due to training in diagnostics and in favor of
dispositional explanations (Gilibert & Banovic, 2009; Snyder, 1977), were "diagnosing" the
Client while watching the video, despite placement in the No Diagnosis condition. After all,
participants were told they were participating in a study about "clinical interpretations."
Hypothesis 2: Interaction of Diagnosis and Context
Context information about the Client's day was randomly presented to about half of the
participants who were informed of a diagnosis of BPD and about half of those who were not. In
the present study, ANOVA results indicated no statistically meaningful interaction of diagnosis
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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/m1/37/: accessed February 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .