Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Patton Garriott

Second Advisor

Ruth Chao

Third Advisor

Jesse Owen

Fourth Advisor

Leslie Hasche


Age bias, Ageism, Clinical bias, Multicultural competence


The proportion of older adults in the United States is growing rapidly (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014) and mental health concerns in older adults are expected to increase rapidly (Choi, DiNitto & Marti, 2015). Despite increasing caseloads of older adults, few practicing psychologists have received specific training or specialization in geropsychology (American Psychological Association, 2016). Simultaneously, a growing body of literature demonstrates differential treatment of older adults in psychotherapy (Kessler & Bowen, 2015, Kessler & Schneider, 2016, Mejia et al., 2018). The present study aimed to examine the prevalence of clinical bias toward older adults among clinical trainees and to explore multicultural competence and explicit ageism as moderating variables. This study randomly assigned participants (n= 242) to an age manipulated clinical vignette (35-years-old vs. 70-years-old) and surveyed participant ratings of client attractiveness, as moderated by multicultural competence and explicit ageism. Results of this study showed that participants demonstrated significant clinical bias toward the older client. Furthermore, ageist attitudes, rather than general self-reported multicultural counseling competence, mitigated this effect. Overall, results of this study contribute to the growing body of research that has demonstrated negative attitudes and discriminatory behavior of mental health professionals toward older clients (Settin, 1982; Wrobel, 1993; James & Haley, 1995; Helmes & Gee, 2003; Conlon & Choi, 2014; Kessler & Schneider, 2017; Mejia et al., 2018) and suggest that explicit ageism plays an important role in differential treatment of older clients.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Kristin Pyne


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

117 p.


Counseling psychology, Clinical psychology, Aging