Implicit attitudes among trainee and qualified clinical psychologists in the UK

Prof Doc Thesis

Blencowe, A. 2017. Implicit attitudes among trainee and qualified clinical psychologists in the UK. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London Psychology
AuthorsBlencowe, A.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Implicit attitudes are thoughts and feelings that occur outside of conscious awareness and are therefore difficult to acknowledge and control. Implicit attitudes have been shown to predict socially sensitive intergroup behaviour not predicted by self-reported (explicit) attitudes. Consequently, negative attitudes towards certain demographic groups (e.g. women, older people, minority ethnic groups, gay people) may contribute to persistent disparities in employment, criminal justice, education and healthcare. The role of clinical psychologists (CPs) in the UK is very varied and CPs may be involved in direct or indirect clinical work and service development; and may be employed in leadership positions within the NHS. Therefore, implicit attitudes among CPs may have wide-ranging implications. However, very few studies have explored implicit attitudes among applied psychologists and none have considered trainee (TCP) and qualified clinical psychologists in the UK.

Eighty-one CPs, 143 TCPs and 86 members of the general population completed between 1 and 5 Implicit Associations Tests (IAT) and self-report measures of attitudes towards age, sexuality, skin-tone, weight and gender/career associations via an internet application. The results showed that negatively biased implicit attitudes towards non-dominant groups were present among CPs and TCPs to a similar degree to those observed in the general population. Conversely, all groups self-reported neutral or positive biases towards all non-dominant groups, except overweight people. All groups showed a similar degree of implicit and explicit pro-thin bias. These findings were not associated with participant age and did not vary by location or religion.

The results have implications for clinical psychology service provision and therapy outcomes (particularly for overweight clients), sex disparities in leadership within the profession and education and training. The findings require replication in a more diverse and representative sample and further research is required to determine whether implicit biases among clinical psychologists predict subtle, unconscious discriminatory behavior in this group.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
PrintMay 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited22 Jan 2018
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