The doctor-patient relationship is a very important aspect of a patient's health and wellbeing. It is a complex relationship that requires trust and understanding by both parties. Doctor shopping and changes in technology that allow patients to independently learn about their health have further complicated this relationship. This study looks at how participants perceive controlling language depending on the gender of the doctor. Participants were 339 University of Central Florida undergraduate students (112 men and 227 women, age M= 19.29, SD = 3.60) recruited through SONA. Participants first listened to a recording of a male or female doctor speaking to a patient using high or low level controlling language. They then answered questions about their opinion of the doctor, how they would behave in the patient's situation, and their beliefs about the role of doctors in the doctor-patient relationship. Results indicated both level of controlling language and doctor gender had significant effects on participants' perception of the doctor. Doctors who spoke with high level controlling language were seen as less helpful and supportive than doctors who spoke with low level controlling language. Participants also were less likely to recommend them to another person. Male doctors were seen as ruder than female doctors. These results suggest that doctors must communicate with each patient in that makes them both the most comfortable, and that male doctors may need to work harder to communicate empathy to their patients.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Sims, Valerie


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Sciences




Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Release Date