Information Processing Strategies in Counselor Hypothesis Testing
AbstractThe issue of confirmatory bias in counselors' clinical hypothesis testing was explored. Previous research has suggested that counselors are unbiased when constructing questioning strategies to test a client hypothesis. This study proceeded on the assumption that questioning is only the beginning of the hypothesis-testing process. In 2 experiments the way counselors remembered information about a client was examined, and information from a client narrative was selected. In Experiment 1 experienced counselors remembered more confirmatory than disconfirmatory information, even when the report they reviewed contained more disconfirmatory information. In Experiment 2 counselors in training selected more confirmatory than disconfirmatory information, even when the report they reviewed contained more disconfirmatory information. Conclusions of the study were the following: Counselors need to be aware of these biases and counselor education should explicitly train counselors to avoid them.