Oh G-d, A Borderline: Clinical Diagnostics As Fundamental Attribution Error Page: 32
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and context on clinical attributions. This finding is in contrast to the hypothesis that psychiatric
diagnostics lends clinicians vulnerable to committing the FAE. Recall the distinction between
attribution theory and the FAE made by Ross (1977) that attribution theory suggests contextual
information should decrease dispositional attributions while the FAE occurs when people persist
in dispositional attributions in spite of contextual information; a difference in attributions was
expected to occur by context when no diagnosis was present that would be moderated by the
presentation of a diagnosis. That moderation did not occur, further suggesting that a diagnosis of
BPD does not lead to the commission of the FAE. Although the present findings were not
statistically significant- and thus the following should not be considered without a great deal of
caution - the data trended (Figure 1) towards the hypothesis that the presence of a diagnosis
would cause participants in the context condition to make attributions that were significantly
more dispositional in nature. Due to recruitment issues and perhaps an overestimation of
projected effect size (see Limitations) it is possible that the trend could be meaningful, with more
Another intentional difference in the design of the present study as compared to previous
research- again in the interest of external validity- was the less salient nature of the context
variable. Previous research in this area has presented behavior that was not extreme and/or the
situational factors were glaring (Langer & Ableson, 1974; Snyder, 1977; Chen, Froehle &
Morran, 1997). In fact, Chen and colleagues (1997) intentionally prepared their five video
stimuli "to ensure that the clients' presenting problems were primarily situational in nature" (p.
76). The present study intentionally did not engage in this preparation; rather, contextual
information was implemented as a randomized independent variable. While that decision
arguably increased external validity, whether that contextual information was truly interpreted by
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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/m1/38/: accessed March 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .