Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Keith T. Checketts


Keith T. Checketts


William R. Dobson


Michael R. Bertoch


Theorists propose that because psychodiagnosis is not a completely objective procedure, it is influenced by sociocultural values. It was hypothesized that religion might be one aspect of sociocultural values which influences psychodiagnosis. The present study sought to determine, by using a clinical analogue design, whether psychologists' formal diagnoses of clients are biased by their present religious affiliations and activity levels, their religious upbringing (assessed by their fathers' and mothers' religious affiliations and activity levels), the clients' religious affiliations and activity levels, or interactions between psychologist and client religious variables. Questionnaires were sent to 228 psychologists licensed to practice in Utah, inviting them to participate in the study. Items eliciting the psychologists' religious characteristics were disguised amidst irrelevant items on the questionnaire. Respondents were sent four case reports which were varied on the religious affiliation (LDS vs. Other) and activity level (Active vs. Inactive) of the fictitious clients. The reports included identifying data, referral reason, background information, behavior observations, psychological test interpretations, and summary. Subjects diagnosed the reports according to the typology of the American Psychiatric Association's DSM-II. Usable data were obtained from 60 psychologists. The cases elicited a wide variety of diagnostic labels. Data were arranged in 56 frequency count tables (14 hypotheses on each of the four cases), and were analyzed with the chi-square test, with alpha = .05. Two significant relationships between religious variables and diagnosis were found. Because of the number of analyses performed, these were viewed as chance findings. In addition, the distributions of diagnoses in eight categories across all four cases were visually inspected according to the religious affiliations of the clinicians making the diagnoses and the clients being diagnosed. This procedure also failed to produce evidence of religious bias. It was concluded that formal diagnoses of clients made by psychologists in Utah are not influenced by psychologist or client religion, or by interactions between the two, when diagnoses are compressed into broad categories.



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