Date of Award

January 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Justin Douglas McDonald


Racial bias within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5th Edition, or DSM5, has been recognized in studies of personality disorder diagnoses. Item Response Theory Differential Functioning of Items and Tests (IRT DIF and DTF) was used to examine the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s (NIAAA) National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) Wave 1 and 2 data. A review of prevalence information by gender and ethnicity was undertaken. Hypotheses included that bias would be present in the items and total scores of personality diagnostic scales. In particular, items and scales which rely on cultural comparisons, and out of body experiences, magical thinking, hallucinations or delusions would be diagnosed more frequently in Native American participants, given that the study would not have accounted for ethnic background when the algorithm for classifying probable diagnosis was used. Results indicated test level bias within five of the scales for African Americans, two for females, one for males, and one for Native Americans. The schizotypal scales was biased for Native Americans and African American participants, as hypothesized. Only three scales contained no scale level bias: avoidant, dependent and obsessive-compulsive.