Gender-related attitudes and therapist attraction

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Edward J. Murray, Committee Chair


The purpose of this study was to examine the professional attractiveness of therapists with varying degrees of traditional or liberal attitudes towards male and female marital roles. Four therapist vignettes representing the traditional-liberal continuum were presented to 400 undergraduates who then filled out the dependent measures of Therapeutic Attraction and Expectation of Positive Relationship.Predictor variables expected to influence attraction were gender, ethnicity (Hispanic vs. Non-Hispanic) and relevant attitudes and traits. The attitude measure was the Attitude Towards Women Scale - Short Form (AWS; Spence, Helmreich, & Strapp, 1973) which measures feministic attitudes and the trait measure was the Personal Attributes Questionnaire - Short Form (PAQ; Spence & Helmreich, 1978) which measures instrumentalism and expressiveness.The major finding of the study was that these college student as a group showed mild aversion to the Very Traditional Therapist and an increasing attraction to Moderately Traditional and Moderately Liberal Therapists, with a levelling off for the Very Liberal Therapist, who was still seen as very attractive. This basic finding was moderated by gender and feministic attitudes in both genders in the obvious direction. No effect for ethnicity was found. Results for the Expectation of Positive Relationship were very similar.The present results are directly opposite those reported in the literature. The findings were interpreted as reflecting an important change in gender role beliefs in a modern college student population. Additional factors influencing the current results include the use of a continuum of traditional-liberal therapists and the avoidance of labels such as feministic in the presentations to the subjects.


Psychology, Clinical

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