Effects of public versus media responsibility messages on stigmatization of people with schizophrenia in an American adult sample

Thais M. Zimbres, Robert A. Bell, Laramie D. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose: People with mental illness suffer from the consequences of stigma. Interventions to reduce stigma should focus on alternative approaches that target false beliefs toward mental disorders. The effectiveness of two messages to reduce stigma toward schizophrenia was tested: a traditional public responsibility message that attributes stigma to public misunderstandings, and an alternative media responsibility message that attributes stigma to bias in media representations. Methods: An experiment with Americans (N = 448) randomly assigned to a public responsibility message, a media responsibility message, or a control condition. Participants in the two message conditions completed measures of guilt and reactance toward the media. Perceptions of personal responsibility and dangerousness, and social rejection intentions were assessed for all participants. Results: Both messages lowered perceptions of dangerousness and social rejection intentions, relative to control. The media responsibility generated more reactance toward the media than the public responsibility approach, but not more guilt. Reactance did not mediate message effects. Perceptions of personal responsibility were reduced after exposure to the public responsibility message, but only for participants with no prior contact with mental illness. Conclusions: Both approaches reduced perceptions of dangerousness and social rejection intentions. Stigma reduction campaigns might segment the audience based on prior contact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

Keywords

  • Communication
  • Education
  • Media
  • Mental illness
  • Schizophrenia
  • Stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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