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The Effect of a Derogatory Professional Label: Evaluations of a “Shrink”


Orly Gadon or Craig Johnson, Department of Psychology, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY 11549. E-mail: or


A study was designed to examine the consequences of hearing a mental health professional referred to as a “shrink.” Participants (N = 129) viewed a videotape of a simulated therapy session after hearing a psychologist referred to as a shrink, a psychologist, or Mr. Smith. As hypothesized, exposure to shrink lowered evaluations of the therapist. However, this was focused on specific characteristics (e.g., expertise). After hearing the label shrink, participants expressed less interest in seeking therapy from the psychologist portrayed. The commenter of the shrink label was also viewed more negatively. The findings imply that the use of the term shrink may undermine people's attitudes toward mental health professionals, a consequence with implications for the utilization of their services.