Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Vol. 19, No. 6, 1990
Ethnicity and Gender Similarity: The Effectiveness of Counseling for Adolescents Barbara Goidberg 1 and R o m e r i a Tidwell 2,3
Received FebJuary 28, 1989; accepted July 24, 1990
Few studies in counseling and psychotherapy have examined the relationship between counselees' perception of counselors' attractiveness and therapeutic outcomes using high school-age counselees in actual counseling sessions. This study investigated the extent to which perceived counselor-counselee similarity affected the counselee's perceptions of counselor attractiveness and how perceived counselor attractiveness affected the degree of counselee satisfaction with counseling. The results suggested that racial and gender differences appear not to have operated as barriers to effective counseling. The implications of these findings for counseling research and practice, in general, we well as for successful counselor-counselee interactions in a multicultural context, in particular, are discussed.
E t h n i c - g r o u p m e m b e r s h i p has b e e n r e g a r d e d as o n e o f t h e m o s t salient aspects o f c o u n s e l o r - c l i e n t similarity (Lee, 1982; Ridley, 1984; Sue, 1983). R a c i a l l y similar o r dissimilar dyads in counseling have b e e n o f continuing i n t e r e s t to r e s e a r c h e r s since t h e late 1960s. S o m e w o r k has sugg e s t e d that clients p r e f e r racially similar c o u n s e l o r s (Sattler, 1978) a n d t h a t this similarity m a y actually e n h a n c e p e r c e i v e d c o u n s e l o r a t t r a c t i v e n e s s ( A t IBarbara Goldberg is a counselor and test coordinator at Alexander Hamilton High School, Los Angeles Unified School District. She received her Ed.D. degree in curriculum and counseling from the UCLA Graduate School of Education in 1987. She has a long-standing interest in minority-group accessibility to higher education and the importance of "matching" in counseling and guidance. 2Romeria Tidwell is an Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology in the Graduate School of Education, UCLA. Her Ph.D. is also from UCLA, where she is currently a faculty member. Her areas of research include discriminatory testing and psychodiagnostic issues related to ethnic/minority-group populations. 589 0047-2891/90/1200-0589506.00 9 1990 Plenum Publishing Corporation
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kinson and Mercado, 1982). Other evidence is inconsistent with these findings. Mulozzi (1981), on the other hand, found no significant differences between Black and White clients' perceptions of Black counselors. White delinquent girls appear, for example, to prefer Black counselors to White counselors (Gamboa et al., 1976). Cimbolic (1972) found the satisfaction of Blacks with counseling services is not related to counselor's race. Thus, research that has so far addressed racial similarity as a factor in clients' perceptions of counselors has been inconclusive, on the whole. Gender similarity may also be important in establishing client-counselor rapport. Several researchers have stated that transference factors make it desirable for adolescents to be treated by counselors of the same sex (Clark and Wopel, 1982; Corsini, 1984; Rabichow and Sklansky, 1980). In particular, Rabichow and Sklansky (1980) found that adolescent males perceive male counselors more positively than they do female counselors. More specifically, these researchers reported that a sample of undergraduate male college students in a psychology class perceived hypothetical male Counselors as more attractive than their female counterparts. In another study, however, patients agreed that female therapists formed more effective therapeutic alliances (Jones and Zoppel, 1982). In the school environment there is an increasing number of counselor-counselee pairings in which counselors differ from their clients in ethnicity, gender, or both. Counselors are being called upon to show an increasing awareness of how culture-specific factors can influence the counseling process (Tidwell, 1980). Moreover, counselors must remain especially sensitive to changing constraints on the social roles of men and women. Because counseling assignments in most public schools are made arbitrarily, it is the responsibility of counselors to develop meaningful relationships with counselees whom they did not select and by whom they were not selected (Tidwell, 1985). The methodology a counselor adopts may play a role in his or her effectiveness, but the crucial variable in a counselor's influence over a client lies in the interpersonal relationship they establish together (Helms and Ibrahim, 1983). Especially in the context of counseling assignments at public high schools, variables such as the race and gender match of counselor and counselee may exert an especially important impact on character of the counseling relationships. As a first approximation to addressing the importance of similarity, defined in terms of ethnic identity and gender, on counselor attractiveness and effectiveness, the present study tests two hypotheses. (1) High-school students who match their counselors in ethnicity and gender will perceive those counselors as more attractive than do high-school students who do not match their counselor on these dimensions. (2) High-school students
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who perceive their counselors as attractive will be more satisfied with the counseling interaction than will students who do not perceive their counselors as attractive. The study was conducted as an adjunct to high-school counseling intake interviews. The similarity of counselors and counselees was controlled along the dimensions of ethnicity and gender; counselees matched their counselors in race, gender, or both. A standardized counselor rating form administered to counselees provided a measure of the perceived attractiveness of counselors.
METHOD The present study employed the expedient of strictly standardizing a set of student intake interviews as a way of assessing the effect of the match between the student's and the counselor's race and sex in making such interviews pleasant and effective. Each student was asked to evaluate and intake counseling interview immediately after the termination of that interview.
Respondents Students. The students who participated in the present study were male and female high-school students in a large urban school district in California. Participants were obtained from a group of new enrollees at five senior high schools in the district. Students were asked to volunteer for the study just prior to the initial interview. O f the 120 who were asked, only 4 refused. Eligibility to participate was based upon two criteria: only students with an idiomatic knowledge of English were included; all of the respondents were either Black or White because of the availability of counselors of those ethnicities. The total sample included 116 respondents. Sixty-four (55%) were female and 63 (54%) were Black. There were 5 ninth graders, 44 tenth graders, 38 eleventh graders, and 39 twelfth graders. All were first-time enrollees at the schools where the study was conducted. Eighty-seven were enrolling in a "regular" high-school program; the 29 others were "remedial" or "honors" students. All but 18 of the students were between 15 and 17 years of age. Students fell into four groups: those who matched their counselors in gender and ethnicity (Group 1); those who matched their counselors in ethnicity only (Group 2); those who matched their counselors in gender only (Group 3); and those who matched their counselors in neither gender
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nor ethnicity (Group 4). The group sizes for group 1 through 4 were 27, 25, 35, and 29, respectively. Counselors. Eight counselors volunteered to participate in the study. There were two Black females, two Black males, two White females, and two White males. All were experienced counselors and all but one held advanced degrees. Instruments
Three instruments were used to gather data. The Student Questionnaire, designed for this study, elicited demographic information from respondents. The Student Satisfaction Questionnaire, also designed for this study, was used to ascertain counselees' degree of satisfaction with the counseling session. The Counselor Rating F o r m - S (Corrigan and Schmidt, 1983) is the short form of a standard instrument used to gauge counselees' perceptions of counselor attractiveness. The Student Questionnaire, a multiple-choice instrument, asked students to specify their age, sex, ethnic group, and ability level (regular, honors, remedial). The Student Satisfaction Questionnaire required students to provide responses to 10 questions relevant to their experience of the just-completed counseling session. Response alternatives were provided on a Likert-type scale that ranged from "1," strongly agree, to "6," strongly disagree; scores ranged from 10 to 60, with low scores indicating a positive response to the counseling session. The Counselor Rating Form S, written at an eighth-grade comprehension level, consists of 12 items designed to measure the counselee's perception of the counselor on the characteristics of friendliness, sociability, warmth, and trustworthiness. There are four questions pertinent to each characteristic so that there are friendliness, sociability, warmth, and trustworthiness subscales. Response alternatives are provided on a Likerttype scale ranging from "1," not very positive, to "7," very positive. Subscale scores are obtained by adding up the responses to the four items in each; the maximum subscale score was 28 and the minimum was 4. Procedure
The student respondents attended 30-min intake counseling interviews, which were carried out using a procedure that resembled the format such interviews usually have. The major difference was that an effort was made to keep this set of interviews as similar as possible to each other. When each interview was over, the counselor administered the rating instruments
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to the student, which usually took from 10 to 30 min. It should be noted that these administrative counseling interviews rarely touch more than briefly on issues related to the psychotherapeutic aspects of counseling. Pretreatment Training. Counselor training sessions were designed to establish a replicable counseling procedure. Two training sessions were held with each counselor. The first, held 2 weeks prior to the inception of the data-gathering phase of the study, had the goal of standardizing the procedure counselors would use with each participating counselee. The second training session was held 1 week before the study; its goal was to finalize the data-collection procedures. At that session, counselors were given explicit instruction about coding procedures, matching of counselor and counselee, and retrieval of counselee data. During both sessions, counselors received extensive training in the use Of the instruments and in reviewing the data they gathered. During the datargathering phase of the study, counselors were telephoned weekly to discuss potential problems.
RESULTS Except where noted, only significant results are reported here. A .05 rejection region was used uniformly across all comparisons. The mean scores across the subscales of the Counselor Rating Form S (friendliness, sociability, warmth, and trustworthiness) were treated as a combined attractiveness score. The mean combined attractiveness scores on the Counselor Rating F o r m - S were 22.4, 23.4, 24.0, and 25.2 for Groups 1 through 4, respectively. A one-way analysis of variance on the four groups' attractiveness scores indicates that there were no significant differences among the groups, F (3, 109) = 2.66, p < .05. It is, however, worth noting that the F test missed significance by the smallest of margins, the p level being .0508. A miss is as good as a mile in statistical testing, but such a result deserves a second look. Indeed, a post hoc comparison tested for significance by Tukey's HSD method reveals a significant difference between Group 1 and Group 4, in their mean attractiveness scores. That the post hoc comparison is significant even though the omnibus F test was not illustrates the marginality of the results. Interestingly, the difference between the attractiveness scores of Groups 1 and 4 was in the opposite direction of the one predicted. That is, students found counselors who differed in both ethnicity and gender from themselves more attractive than those who were of both the same ethnicity and the same sex. Although it would be a mistake to speculate based upon a "marginal" result in this area, such a result does raise a number of complex
Goldberg and Tidwell Table I. Results of Tests of Full Versus Reduced Model Regression for Counselee Matching Groups Counselee groups a
1,2 1,3 1,4 2,3 2,4 3,4
3350.075 6655.321 4438.857 4554.818 2413.117 5748.655
3274.365 6566.502 4146.878 4551.073 2131.449 5423.586
27 27 27 25 25 29
25 35 29 35 29 64
0.554 0.092 1.830 0.023 3.304* 1.798
aGroup 1, match on ethnicity and gender; Group 2, match on ethnicity; Group 3, match on gender; Group 4, match on neither ethnicity nor gender. *p < .05.
questions for further research. Perhaps the sensible assumption that students will "warm up" more easily to someone they perceive as similar to themselves deserves another look. It was also predicted that students would be more satisfied with their counseling interviews when they found their counselors attractive. Since attractiveness was assumed to vary positively with the match between counselors' and counselees' gender and ethnicity, counseling interview satisfaction was assumed to be mediated largely by the degree of congruence of counselors' and counselees' gender and ethnicity. That is, those counselees who matched their counselors in sex and ethnicity would find their counselors more attractive and, hence, be more satisfied with their initial counseling interviews. Although we already know that the relationship among gender, ethnicity, and attractiveness was not in the predicted direction, it is still possible that perceived attractiveness of the counselor mediates counselee satisfaction with the initial interview. The relationship between perceived attractiveness of the counselor and counselee satisfaction was tested through comparisons within a regression model. The attractiveness score derived from the Counselor Rating F o r m - S and the counselees' ratings of their satisfaction with their initial interview on the same form were the variables of interest. The results of a bivariate regression analysis, presented in Table I, provide only minimal support for the second hypothesis. Only the slopes and intercepts for Groups 2 and 4 were significantly different [F (1, 52) = 3.30]. Counselor Attractiveness
The means and standard deviations for the attractiveness index components, friendly, likable, sociable, and warm, were 5.91, 6.03, 6.02, and
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Table II. Correlation Matrix of the Subcomponents of the Attractiveness Score from the Counselor Rating Form for Counselee Sample Subcomponent of the
Subcomponent of attractiveness score
Friendly Likable Sociable Warm
.7953* .6083* .4959**
*p < .001. **p < .01.
5.83, respectively. On each of these components a score of 7 meant "very positive" and a score of 1 meant "not very positive." Thus, the mean scores on all these components were in the high range. The standard deviations of these scores, in each case slightly greater than 1, indicate that most of the students were giving their counselors fairly positive ratings on those questionnaire items related to attractiveness. T h e r e is a high intercorrelation among three of the items included in the attractiveness score, friendly, likable, and sociable. Perceived counselor warmth is also correlated with the other three items, but it is not as highly related to any of them as they are to each other. The correlation matrix for the attractiveness subcomponents is presented in Table II. The relatively high correlations a m o n g these items suggest that they reflect similar underlying elements. Pearson p r o d u c t - m o m e n t correlations were also computed between the overall counselee satisfaction index (derived from the Student Satisfaction with Counseling Questionnaire) and the subcomponents of the attractiveness score. All the counselor attractiveness subcomponents are related to a moderately high degree with student satisfaction in the initial counseling interview. The correlations of friendly, likable, sociable, and warm with the overall counselee satisfaction index are .40, .43, .34, and .30. Thus, all but warm were significantly correlated with the counselor satisfaction score. Such a result makes sense: for a student to have rated a counselor as likable, for example, is an indication that he or she was satisfied with his or her interaction with that counselor. The mean scores for each of the four groups on the subcomponents of the attractiveness score (from Counselor Rating F o r m - S ) are presented in Table III. A clear pattern emerges: G r o u p 1 had the lowest overall attractiveness scores and the lowest scores on each subcomponent, exactly the opposite of what was predicted; the scores for G r o u p 4 were the highest in each case, also the opposite of what was predicted. The group differences, as previously noted, failed to reach significance, however.
Goldberg and Tidwell Table IlL Summary of Counselees' Assessment Scores on the Counselor Rating Form (Short Form) by Four Sample Groups
Assessment measure Total score
Group 1 (n = 27) M SD 22.37 4.09
Counselee group a Group 2 Group 3 (n = 25) (n = 35) M SD M SD 23.40 4.37 23.97 4.30
Group 4 (n = 29) M SD 25.21 2.14
Subcomponents Friendly 5.70 1.35 5.72 1.14 5.91 1.17 6.26 .84 Likable 5.74 1.06 5.92 1.41 6.09 1.29 6.31 .85 Sociable 5.63 1.45 5.96 1.34 6.11 1.05 6.31 .85 Warm 5.30 2.56 5.80 1.08 5.86 1.33 6.31 .85 aGroup 1, match on ethnicity and gender; Group 2, match on ethnicity; Group 3, match on gender; Group 4, match on neither ethnicity nor gender.
DISCUSSION T h e p r i m a r y o b j e c t i v e o f this i n v e s t i g a t i o n w a s to e x a m i n e t h e r e l a t i o n s h i p b e t w e e n h i g h - s c h o o l c o u n s e l o r s a n d their counselees. M o r e specifically, t h e study investigated the extent to which p e r c e i v e d c o u n s e l o r c o u n s e l e e similarity a f f e c t e d c o u n s e l e e p e r c e p t i o n s o f c o u n s e l o r attractiveness a n d h o w p e r c e i v e d c o u n s e l o r a t t r a c t i v e n e s s a f f e c t e d the d e g r e e o f c o u n s e l e e satisfaction with counseling. T h e m a i n r e s e a r c h hypothesis was that high-school s t u d e n t s o f t h e s a m e ethnic g r o u p m e m b e r s h i p a n d g e n d e r as t h e i r c o u n s e l o r s will p e r c e i v e their c o u n s e l o r s as m o r e attractive than high-school s t u d e n t s who a r e dissimilar f r o m t h e i r c o u n s e l o r s in ethnic g r o u p m e m b e r s h i p a n d g e n d e r . It was s u p p o s e d t h a t s t u d e n t s w h o a r e similar to t h e i r c o u n s e l o r s o n o n e d i m e n s i o n , ethnicity o r g e n d e r , b u t not the o t h e r w o u l d find t h e i r counselors m o r e attractive t h a n w o u l d those who a r e dissimilar on b o t h d i m e n sions. T h e hypothesis was not s u p p o r t e d .
E t h n i c Similarity
T h e results o f t h e p r e s e n t investigation a r e c o n t r a r y to the findings o f L e e et al. (1983), w h o e x a m i n e d the effects o f c o u n s e l o r race o n p e r c e i v e d c o u n s e l o r a t t r a c t i v e n e s s for 195 C a u c a s i a n h i g h - s c h o o l students. T h e i r r e s p o n d e n t s e x h i b i t e d significantly e l e v a t e d p e r c e p t i o n s o f t h e attractiveness of the Caucasian counselors over the attractiveness of ethnic m i n o r i t y counselors. It should b e n o t e d t h a t the s a m p l e a n d t r e a t m e n t u s e d by t h e s e r e s e a r c h e r s greatly d i f f e r e d from t h o s e in t h e p r e s e n t investigation.
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L e e et al. did not make comparisons across respondents from ethnic groups. The present study, on the other hand, dealt with complex matches of students and counselors. Also, the subjects in the Lee study were less likely to have as much personal contact with minorities than students from a large metropolitan area. The ethnic composition of the community and personal contact with minority groups play significant roles in determining perceived counselor attractiveness (Harrison, 1977). It is quite feasible, then, that the students in the present study were influenced by their experiences in dealing with a multiethnic population. In addition, the present study used "real-life" counseling sessions. Subjects in this study were clients in the counseling session, whereas Lee used videotapes of actors portraying counselors and clients. Subjects who actually discuss a problem with a counselor evaluate the counselor more positively than do subjects who listen to an audiotape or watch a videotape of the same interview (Maser, 1980). That may explain some of the discrepancies between the present study and the Canadian study. Finally, the purpose and content of the two counseling sessions differed. Students in Lee's study were reacting to a specific concern: the clients in the videotapes had conflicts with their parents over career goals. All subjects in the sample were reacting to a similar presenting problem and to counselors who were similar in style, age, and dress. To the extent that it is possible working with real people, the only apparent difference among the videotaped counselors was in their race. In the present investigation, although the counseling session was relatively structured, it was possible for diverse concerns to s u r f a c e - a c a d e m i c , personal, career. Therefore, counselees were potentially evaluating counselor attractiveness based upon a number of potential factors. By discussing counselee concerns and reacting to them counselors were exposing their personalities, attitudes, philosophies, sense of humor, and so on. This exposure and its subsequent effect on counselees may have resulted in the diminution of ethnic group similarity as a factor in attractiveness. These other characteristics were, perhaps, more important in the interaction. Other studies have found effects of ethnicity on counselor-counselee similarity and attractiveness. Sladen (1981) reported, for example, that subjects judge counselors as most similar and attractive when those counselors are working with clients of similar ethnic identities to themselves. In Sladen's study, subjects listened to 5-min audiotaped segments based on tapes made by actors portraying two Black counselors, a White counselor, and Black and White clients. Again, in the present study, subjects were involved as clients in a "real-life" counseling session. The present results are consistent with those of Parloff (1978) and Sue (1983), who reported that counselors of any race or ethnic group can
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counsel clients of any race. Similarly, Harrison (1977) investigated the attitude of Black manpower trainees toward being counseled by White counselors, both before and after their actual counseling, and found that before counseling, trainees reacted favorably to the possibility of a White counselor. After counseling, trainees assigned to White counselors still evidenced the same generally favorable attitudes. Dubey (1980) found that only 10-11% of Black inner-city residents surveyed by Black researchers preferred working with Black professionals, including therapists. Few investigators, however, have used a high schoolage sample. Porch6 and Banikiotes (1982), who did use adolescent subjects, obtained results consistent with those of the present study. Based on their sample of 247 Black male and female high-school students, Porch6 and Banikiotes (1982) found that the race of the counselor affects counselees' perception of the attractiveness of that counselor. White counselors were rated as more attractive than their Black counterparts. This finding is inconsistent with the original premise that Black adolescents would find Black counselors more attractive than White counselors. Further, the findings conflict with others that indicate a positive relationship between racial similarity and counselor attractiveness (Sue and Sue, 1977). One must note that in the present study, there were no significant differences among the means on attractiveness for all four counselee groups; that is, Blacks did not perceive Whites as more attractive than Blacks, and vice versa. Thus, in this respect, the findings are not consistent with those of Porch6 and Banikiotes (1982). In addition, although the setting and subjects for this study and that of Porch6 and Banikiotes were similar, the treatments were dissimilar. Subjects in the Porch6 and Banikiotes study were not real-life clients, as they were in the present study. In that study, subjects responded on the Counselor Rating Form to hypothetical counseling interactions; they were presented with photographs of the counselors and with demographic and attitudinal information about the counselors. In the context of real-life counseling sessions at a Veterans Administration Hospital, clients were administered a counseling satisfaction questionnaire (Proctor and Rosen, 1981). Treatment satisfaction and termination appeared to be unrelated to the racial makeup of counseling dyads. Even when the preference for a racially similar counselor was violated, there appeared to be no adverse effect on client satisfaction. In summary, on the question of ethnicity as a factor in the attractiveness of counselors to high-school counselees, there is still a mixed picture. Since this study did not have conclusive results, we are still left with the
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problem of discerning role of ethnic similarity in the effectiveness of school counseling.
The second part of the main research hypothesis was that high-school students who perceive their counselors as attractive will be more satisfied with the counseling interaction than those students who perceive their counselors as unattractive. Once again, the hypothesis was not supported. Rabichow and Sklansky (1980) found that counselees prefer same-sex counselors. They used a 10-min videotape of a hypothetical counseling session, while the present study used a 30-min real-life counseling session. As previously mentioned, it is quite feasible that the differences in treatment influenced the finding. Other researchers have found that females, in particular, prefer same-sex counselors. Highland and Russell (1980) found that counselors' gender role affected subjects' ratings of the counselors: "feminine" counselors rated higher than "masculine" counselors. Furthermore, Hardin and Yanico (1983), in a study of 100 male and 100 female college students, found that females expected attractive counseling psychologists to be female more than males did. Leland (1978) found, moreover, that both male and female students prefer to see female counselors about personal and social problems. One explanation for the failure of the present study to uncover such effects may lie in the contents of the real-life counseling session, which in the present study was highly structured and more or less confined to the scheduling of students into appropriate classes. It is feasible that the purpose of the interview overrides the issue of gender match. In other words, the counselee perceived the counselor as attractive, regardless of gender, if the session produced satisfactory results-a good selection of classes. The findings of the investigation are consistent with those of others involving perceived counselor attractiveness, and satisfaction with counseling (Bryson and Cody, 1973; Cimbolic, 1972; Mulozzi, 1981). For example, Bryson and Cody (1973) explored the relationship between race and extent of client understanding of the counsel (a component of satisfaction) by comparing the client's assessment with that of independent raters. They found that White clients understand their Black counselors as well as they do White counselors and that Black clients understand White counselors as well as they do Black counselors. Similarly, Cimbolic (1972) found that Black clients' satisfaction with their counselors was not related to counselor race. That the gender composition of counseling dyads in this study did not affect satisfaction with counseling may reflect a number of converging
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factors. First, in the actual counseling session, counselor skills and experience may override many of the barriers to effective communication. Second, as long as counselees got what they wanted out of the interview, an acceptable class schedule, they had little reason to evaluate any counselor negatively. Finally, in secondary schools, because counselees are assigned to counselors, most may have few expectations of a counseling session. If they have few expectations, they are unlikely to be disappointed with a counselor, irrespective of that counselor's gender.
Similarity and Attractiveness The differential magnitude of the mean attractiveness scores across counselee groups was actually contrary to what was predicted. Group 4, who matched on neither ethnic group membership nor gender, had the highest mean scores for attractiveness, while Group 1, who matched on ethnic group membership and gender, had the lowest mean attractiveness scores. The present result is consistent with those obtained by Briggs and Strohmer (1983), who found that even when the stated preference for a racially similar counselor was violated, there appeared to be no adverse affect on client perceptions of counselor attractiveness. Furthermore, Sanchez and Atkinson (1983), in a study of Chicano college students, found that attitudinal similarity is a more important factor in counselor attractiveness than is ethnic similarity between counselor and client. Additionally, Ridley (1984) found that Black inner-city youth consistently rate White counselors as equal in attractiveness to Black counselors. Other researchers have reported discrepant findings. For example, one early empirical study suggested that racial preferences outweigh the overall attractiveness of the counselor (Banks et al., 1967). Other studies provide further support that Black clients prefer to be seen by Black counselors (Gardner, 1977; Grantham, 1973; Wolken et al., 1973). In two extensive reviews of the literature on racial effect in counseling and psychotherapy, Harrison (1977) and Sattler (1978) concluded that, other things being equal, Black counselees tend to perceive Black counselors as more attractive and tend to disclose more information to Black counselors. Several theorists have suggested that counselors who are aware of the problems, needs, and culture of minority clients will be able to provide effective therapeutic interventions (Fukuyana and Neimeyer, 1985; Parloff, 1978; Sue, 1975). It is feasible that counselors in the present study were experienced in working with diverse ethnic groups and were sensitive to the needs of each group.
Ethnicity and Gender
In the present study, racial and gender differences appeared not to have operated as barriers to effective counseling. Given the multicultural context within which these counselors work, it is possible that they were sensitive to and sophisticated regarding cultural and gender issues. That would diminish any difference in counseling effectiveness based upon the ethnic composition of counseling dyads (Sue and Sue, 1977). It is also possible that the racial or sexual composition of counseling dyads is of little importance relative to such variables as counselor experience (Cimbolic, 1972), counselor style (Berman, 1979), or counselor attitudes (Dorn, 1983). Because of the inability to account adequately in the present study for these alternative explanations, and because of the problems posed by null findings, the results indicating that racial match did not affect satisfaction with counseling can only be considered suggestive. The methodology of this study is probably unique. First, the use of high school-age counselees as subjects is a rarity. Almost all counseling studies use college-age populations or older adults as subjects. Second, the investigation involved an actual counseling session; past studies have tended to concentrate on simulated counseling sessions. The use of real-life counseling sessions is underrepresented in the literature, despite the concern that it is difficult to generalize from analogue studies to counseling populations (Corrigan and Schmidt, 1983). Third, counselee satisfaction was studied; in previous investigations, supervisors, parents, teachers, or administrators evaluated counselors. Because counselees are the ultimate consumers of counseling services, their evaluations are important (Tidwell, 1988). The matching of counselees and counselors on ethnic group membership and gender did not affect either perceived counselor attractiveness or satisfaction with counseling. Nevertheless, the results have implications for successful counselee-counselor interactions. The findings of this study suggest that other counselor characteristics, such as personality, attitudes, and nonverbal behaviors, are more important determinants of perceived counselor attraction and satisfaction with counseling than are ethnic-group membership and gender.
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Goldberg and Tidwell
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