Attitudes toward persons with AIDS among psychologists in training
Fliszar, Gregory Michael
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This study examined attitudes of psychologists in training toward working with persons with AIDS. Clinical and counseling psychologists in training (N = 266) from eight different psychology graduate programs read one of four possible vignettes that described a hypothetical patient. The vignettes were identical except that the patient was described as having either AIDS or leukemia and his sexual orientation was described as being either heterosexual or homosexual. After reading the vignette, subjects completed a short scale that measured reactions to the hypothetical patient, and then completed a measure of AIDS knowledge, a measure of homophobia, and a demographic questionnaire. It was expected that subjects who rated a vignette describing an AIDS patient would have more negative attitudes toward that patient than subjects who rated a vignette describing a leukemia patient. It was also expected that higher levels of homophobia would be related to more negative attitudes toward both the hypothetical AIDS and homosexual patients, and that greater AIDS knowledge would be related to more positive attitudes toward the AIDS patients. Results of an analysis of variance indicated that the subjects who rated a vignette describing an AIDS patient were less likely to attend a party where he had prepared food and considered him to be more more responsible for his illness, to be more deserving of what happened to him, and to be more dangerous to others than subjects who rated an identically described leukemia patient. However, subjects were more willing to talk to the hypothetical AIDS patient than the leukemia patient, and subjects were equally willing to accept the hypothetical patient as a psychotherapy client regardless of whether he was described as an AIDS patient or as a leukemia patient. Problems with the measures of homophobia and AIDS knowledge made it difficult to assess the relationship between those two variables and attitudes toward the hypothetical patients. The results of this study are discussed, and implications of these findings for future research are presented.