Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 159–169 | Cite as

Symptom disclosure to male and female physicians: Effects of sex, physical attractiveness, and symptom type

  • Jerald W. Young


Seventy-five subjects (50 male and 25 female) rated their willingness to disclose symptoms of a personal nature, general nature, and mental illness nature to male and female physicians whose photographs had been pretested as being either physically attractive or physically unattractive. Increased willingness to disclose was related to (1) the more physically attractive physicians, (2) general as compared to personal or mental symptoms, (3) same-sex match-ups between patient and physician, especially when (4) disclosing personal or mental illness symptoms or concerns. The sex of the physician per sehad no influence on patients' willingness to disclose symptoms. Implications are drawn concerning the patient's assignment to or choice of physician based on sex. Patient education and training in symptom disclosure as well as physician's skill building in facilitating symptom disclosure are also indicated.

Key words

female physicians male physicians effects of physician's attractiveness symptom disclosure 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Antonovsky, A., and Hartman, H. (1974). Delay in the detection of cancer: A review of the literature.Health Educ. Monogr. 2(2): 98–128.Google Scholar
  2. Balint, E., and Norell, J. (1973). Six minutes for the patient. InInteractions in General Practice Consultation, Tavistock, London.Google Scholar
  3. Berger, S. (1978). The effects of different sets of disclosure instructions on subject productivity and rated satisfaction.J. Couns. Psychol. 25(6): 506–513.Google Scholar
  4. Berscheid, E., and Walster, E. (1974). Physical attractiveness. In Berkowitz, L. (ed.),Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 7, Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  5. Brooks, L. (1974). Interactive effects of sex and status on self-disclosure.J. Couns. Psychol. 21(6): 469–474.Google Scholar
  6. Browne, K., and Freeling, P. (1967).The Doctor-Patient Relationship, E. and S. Livingstone, Edinburgh.Google Scholar
  7. Campbell, D. T., and Stanley, S. C. (1963). Experimental and quasi-experimental designs for research in teaching. In Gage, N. L. (ed.),Handbook of Research on Teaching, Rand-McNally, Chicago.Google Scholar
  8. Cash, T., and Kehr, J. (1978). Influence of non-professional counselor's physical attractiveness and sex on perceptions of counselor behavior.J. Couns. Psychol. 25(4): 336–342.Google Scholar
  9. Cash, T., and Salzbach, R. (1978). The beauty of counseling: Effects of counselor physical attractiveness and self disclosures on perceptions of counselor behavior.J. Couns. Psychol. 25(4): 283–291.Google Scholar
  10. Cash, T., Begley, P., McCown, D., and Weise, B. (1975). When counselors are heard but not seen: Initial impact of physical attractiveness.J. Couns. Psychol. 22: 273–279.Google Scholar
  11. Clyne, M. (1972). The doctor-patient relationship as a diagnostic tool.Psychiat. Med. 3: 343–355.Google Scholar
  12. Hays, W. L. (1963).Statistics for Psychologists, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York.Google Scholar
  13. Herold, D. M. (1977). Improving the performance effectiveness of groups through a taskcontingent selection of intervention strategies. Management Working Paper No. M-76-6, College of Industrial Management, Georgia Institute of Technology.Google Scholar
  14. Highlen, P., and Gillis, S. (1978). Effects of situational factors, sex and attitude on affective self-disclosure and anxiety.J. Couns. Psychol. 25(4): 270–276.Google Scholar
  15. Janis, I. (1967). Effects of fear arousal in attitude change: Recent developments in theory and experimental research. In Berkowitz, L. (ed.),Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 3, Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  16. Jourard, S. (1964).The Transparent Self, Van Nostrand, New York.Google Scholar
  17. Jourard, S. (1971).Self-disclosure: An Experimental Analysis of the Transparent Self, Wiley Interscience, New York.Google Scholar
  18. Kohen, J. (1975). The development of reciprocal self-disclosure in opposite sex interaction.J. Couns. Psychol. 22: 404–410.Google Scholar
  19. Kopfstein, J., and Kopstein, D. (1973). Correlates of self-disclosure in college students.J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 41: 163.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Korsch, B., and Negrete, V. (1972). Doctor-patient communication.Sci. Am. 227(2): 66–74.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Lindquist, E. F. (1953).Design and Analysis of Experiments in Psychology and Education. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.Google Scholar
  22. Littlefield, R. (1974). Self disclose among some Negro, white and Mexican-American adolescents.J. Couns. Psychol. 21(2): 133–136.Google Scholar
  23. Lomranz, S., and Shapira, A. (1974). Communication patterns of self-disclosure and touching behavior.J. Psychol. 88: 223–227.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Mulcaby, G. (1973). Sex differences in patterns of self-disclosure among adolescents.J. Youth Adolesc. 2: 343–356.Google Scholar
  25. Ryckman, R., Sherman, M., and Burgess, G. (1973). Locus of control and self-disclosure of public and private information by college men and women.J. Psychol. 84(2): 317–318.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Schein, E. (1969).Process Consultation: Its Role in Organization Development. Mass.: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  27. Stimson, G., and Webb, B. (1975).Going to See the Doctor: The Consultation Process in General Practice, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London.Google Scholar
  28. Turner, S. (1975). Male and female attitudes toward sex-role concepts.Psychology 12(1): 27–29.Google Scholar
  29. Young, J. W. (1978). The subordinate's exposure of organizational vulnerability to the superior: Sex and organizational effects.Acad. Manage. J. 21: No. 1.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jerald W. Young
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ManagementUniversity of FloridaGainesville

Personalised recommendations