Date of Award
Dr. Meredith Meyer
First Committee Member
Dr. Michele Acker
Second Committee Member
Jessica Crossfield McIntosh
Stigma, Mental Illness, Psychopathology, Causal Attributions
Clinical Psychology | Health Psychology | Other Psychology | Social Psychology
Research has shown undeniable evidence of mental illness stigma. Stigma has been shown to reduce treatment seeking and negatively impact emotion and cognition in individuals with mental illness (Livingstone & Boyd, 2010). By discovering the driving forces behind stigma, treatment seeking and quality of life can be improved for individuals with mental illness. This study investigates the effect of knowledge, disorder type, and causal attribution on mental illness stigma. Specifically, participants were assigned to one of two conditions, knowledge or no knowledge. Knowledge conditions included information about a disorder (schizophrenia or depression, depending on disorder condition) such as definition, prevalence, symptoms, criteria for diagnosis, treatment, and common myths. The no knowledge condition lacked this information. Stigma was then measured. Stigma was measured as desired social distance from the affected individual, perceived responsibility, likeliness to help, perceived control, and perceived dangerousness. Additionally, subjects’ pre-existing causal attribution beliefs were measured by asking the extent to which subjects believed disorders arose from environmental vs. biogenetic origins. Knowledge was found to significantly reduce stigma levels for both depression and schizophrenia. Additionally, causal attribution was significantly positively associated with total stigma, with more biogenetic beliefs predicting higher stigma levels. Such results affirm the influence of knowledge and causal attribution on stigma levels and indicate variables that can be utilized in stigma reduction programs.
Ferguson, Jesica N., "Stigma and its Reduction: The Role of Knowledge, Causal Attribution, and Mental Disorder Type" (2018). Honors Thesis Projects. 65.