Document Type

Article

Publication Date

8-5-2017

Abstract

Background and objectives

Correlational research shows that belief in a continuum of psychiatric problems predicts decreased public stigma. However, the correlational findings fail to inform the stigma reduction prospects of manipulating continuum beliefs. All extant experimental work has been executed online. This study examined effects of a laboratory-based continuum intervention on behavioral and self-report measures of psychiatric stigma.

Methods

Sixty-nine undergraduates believed that they would meet a man with schizophrenia. They then read a bogus scientific article that attested to a categorical view of schizophrenia, a continuum view, or that merely described schizophrenia. Some participants then completed a task that required reflection on their differences from (categorical group) or similarities to (continuum group) the man with schizophrenia. Participants eventually moved to an adjacent room and sat in one of several seats that varied in their proximity to a seat ostensibly occupied by the man with schizophrenia.

Results

The continuum intervention decreased self-reported social distance and the categorical intervention increased endorsement of damaging stereotypes. Seat selection was unaffected by our manipulation, but we obtained evidence of significant links to validated stigma measures.

Limitations

Our sample was small, and our behavioral stigma measure could be modified to maximize variability in participants' seat selection.

Conclusions

The study offers modest support of the stigma reduction effect of continuum belief intervention. It offers new evidence of the pernicious consequences of interventions that inflate perceptions of the “otherness” of individuals with psychiatric problems. Finally, it shines new light on stigma-related behavior measurable in the laboratory.

DOI

10.1016/j.jbtep.2017.08.002

Comments

This is the peer-reviewed accepted manuscript version of the article. The final published version of this article is available through the publisher: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbtep.2017.08.002.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Available for download on Tuesday, August 06, 2019

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