Race Bias, Social Class Bias, and Gender Bias in Clinical Judgment


Address correspondence to Howard N. Garb, Psychology Service (116B), Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 7180 Highland Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15206–1297. Electronic mail may be sent via Internet to garb.howard@pittsburgh.va.gov. Dr Garb is affiliated with the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania.


Studies on race bias, social class bias, and gender bias are reviewed. Topics include psychodiagnosis and rating level of adjustment, the description of personality traits and psychiatric symptoms, the prediction of behavior, and treatment planning. Replicated findings include race bias in the differential diagnosis of schizophrenia and psychotic affective disorders, gender bias in the differential diagnosis of histrionic and antisocial personality disorders, race bias and gender bias in the prediction of violence, and social class bias in the referral of clients to psychotherapy. Recommendations for decreasing bias include (a) being aware of when biases are likely to occur, (b) adhering to diagnostic criteria, and (c) using statistical prediction rules to predict behavior.