The effects of information-giving behavior and gender on the perceptions of physicians: An experimental analysis

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Marilyn L. Rall
Fred S. Peskoff
James J. Byrne
Cite this article:  Rall, M., Peskoff, F., & Byrne, J. (1994). The effects of information-giving behavior and gender on the perceptions of physicians: An experimental analysis. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 22(1), 1-16.


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A pilot study was conducted in which 107 college students were compared with 137 subjects over the age of 30. Subjects were asked to respond to a scenario describing a physician-patient interaction where the doctor both overlooked questions and gave no diagnosis or to the identical scenario with the wording changed to encourage the subject to identify with the doctor rather than the patient. The physician was rated as more likeable and competent when the subject was asked to identify with him or her. A second experiment was conducted in which 444 male and female subjects were presented with scenarios describing a physician-patient interaction in which the subject was asked to identify with the patient. The interaction was systematically varied as follows: the physician either answered or overlooked questions from the patient; the physician either gave a personal post -examination diagnosis or had a nurse dismiss the patient; the physician was described as being male or female. The physician was rated not only as being more likeable but also as more competent when the patient’s questions were answered and when a personal diagnosis was provided. Neither sex of physician nor sex of subject affected the evaluations.

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