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Training self-aware psychologists: the effect of a doctoral level diversity laboratory course on implicit bias, color-blind racism, and white privilege

24 July 2015


Clinical psychology training programs have a responsibility to educate future clinicians in cultural competence, which includes self-reflection about clinicians’ own unconscious racial biases, privilege and examination of structural racism. This pretest-posttest study examined the effect of a required human diversity laboratory course on students at a small Pacific Northwest doctoral training program. The students (n=73) were given the Race-Implicit Association Test (IAT), Color-Blind Racial Attitudes Scale (CoBRAS), and White students were given the White Privilege Attitudes Scale (WPAS) at the beginning and end of the semester. Overall, students significantly decreased their CoBRAS scores (t(72) = 5.77, p < .000, medium effect) suggesting less color-blind racial bias. White students significantly increased their WPAS scores ((t(53)=-4.94, p < .000, medium effect) indicating increased awareness of their White privilege. Overall, the Race-IAT scores did not differ significantly from pretest to posttest (t(72)=-.12, p=.90). Demographic differences in results are discussed as well as which course activities may have influenced these results. The results indicate that the laboratory course was effective at increasing awareness of White privilege and decreasing color-blind racial attitudes.


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