Date of Award

Summer 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Psychology and Behavioral Sciences

First Advisor

Alicia Ford


Past research has shown the results of gender and gender role biases on the diagnostic decision-making process, particularly with regard to personality disorders. This bias has implications for homosexual individuals, as they often are viewed as displaying traits of opposite sex individuals. With regard to personality assessment, current research continuously supports a more dimensional conceptualization of personality pathology. In the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a hybrid model of personality assessment, which utilizes both categorical methods and dimensional approaches, has been added as an alternative model. The study explored the effects of gender role stereotypes and attitudes toward homosexual individuals on the diagnosis of personality pathology, using both a categorical model and a dimensional model. In the study, 204 trainees in clinical and counseling psychology doctoral programs completed one of five diagnostic vignettes, each of which described individuals displaying identical symptoms of both Borderline Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder, but that was altered by gender and sexual orientation, as well as measures of attitudes toward women and toward homosexual individuals. Participants were asked to provide a diagnostic impression of the individual from both a categorical perspective (consistent with DSM-IV-TR nosology) and a dimensional trait perspective (similar to the alternative model in DSM-5) in order to determine if views of women and homosexual individuals impacted the diagnostic decision-making process. As predicted, women were diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder more than men, and men were diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder more than women. This trend was observed in categorical diagnostic impressions, but not in dimensional assignment of traits. However, the current study failed to support other predictions, such as the presence of inversion stereotypes of homosexual individuals. Potential causes of these unexpected findings are presented. Findings support the use of a dimensional model of personality assessment, as results suggest such a model is less vulnerable to the effects of gender bias in diagnostic decision making. Implications for future research, as well as the importance of a continued focus on multiculturalism in psychology training programs, are discussed.