A critical examination of gender, race, and sexuality in introductory clinical psychology textbooks

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University of Alabama Libraries

Clinical psychology is a field that aims to understand behavior and to use this understanding to aid individuals and society in a multitude of ways. Many psychologists use their training to help patients who seek help with emotional, behavioral, or other types of mental health issues. Because psychologists can have a significant impact on individual's lives and society as a whole, analysis of the training psychologists receive is critical to ensure that appropriate material is being integrated into that training. The present study is an examination of the five top selling introductory psychology textbooks as of 2008. These textbooks are used in upper level undergraduate and beginning graduate classrooms. The study's aim was to examine the content of these textbooks for information related to gender, race, and sexuality. The findings suggest that although the field of psychology has continued to report that multicultural sensitivity is essential to effective treatment of diverse individuals, introductory psychology textbooks do not have sufficient and accurate information in any of these areas. All of the books examined were authored by males, contained a higher proportion of photographs of white males than white females and ethnic minority males and females, contained traditionally gendered descriptions of males and females, reported little information on sexuality or race, had no information on possible reasons for reported sex differences, and contained gendered examples of psychopathology. The significance of these findings and suggestions for improving the multicultural content of psychology textbooks are discussed.

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Women's studies, Clinical psychology, Higher education