Alternative Title

Clinicians' diagnoses of Black women in the therapeutic space

Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Study Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School for Social Work


Narviar C. Barker


Black women, White women, Implicit bias, Explicit bias, Diagnoses, Intersectionality, Multicultural competency, Stereotypes, Cultural archetypes, Discrimination, Intersectionality (Sociology), Stereotypes (Social psychology), Cultural competence, Archetype (Psychology), Mental illness-Diagnosis, Black women-Psychology, White women-Psychology


This was a mixed methods study that used both random and non-random purposive snowball convenience sampling. The purpose of the study was to investigate whether clinicians issue more severe psychotic DSM diagnoses (schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorders) to Black female clients than to White female clients when implicitly primed with cultural archetypes unique to Black women. The research questions were, “Do clinicians issue more severe and stereotype-consistent diagnoses to Black female clients than they do to White female clients;” and “Is there a difference in reaction time in clinician diagnosis of severe psychotic disorders between a clinically-identical Black female vignette and a White female vignette?” Two hypotheses were tested for this study: (1) Despite identical symptomatology, the Black female clinical vignette will be assigned more severe psychotic diagnoses than the White female clinical vignette; and (2) Clinicians diagnosing the Black female clinical vignette with a severe psychotic diagnosis will demonstrate quicker reaction times than clinicians diagnosing the White female clinical vignette with a severe psychotic diagnosis, which shows an implicit bias. The study’s most significant findings were: (1) Data did not yield significant evidence to show that more diagnoses of psychotic disorders were assigned to the Black female vignette than to the White female vignette; and (2) Although clinicians were found to spend more time diagnosing the White female clinical vignette than the Black female vignette, the difference was not significant. The study consisted of 48 participants




iv, 136 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2017. Includes bibliographical references (pages 89-114)