Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

Contact with the Mentally Ill and Perceptions of How Dangerous They Are

Bruce G. Link and Francis T. Cullen
Journal of Health and Social Behavior
Vol. 27, No. 4 (Dec., 1986), pp. 289-302
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2136945
Page Count: 14
  • Download ($14.00)
  • Subscribe ($19.50)
  • Cite this Item
Contact with the Mentally Ill and Perceptions of How Dangerous They Are
Preview not available

Abstract

Jones et al. (1984) proposes that contact between a "marked" and an "unmarked" person will modify the preconceptions each has about the stigmatized condition and about its impact on subsequent social interaction. To test this notion, we used two general population samples–one drawn from Macomb, Illinois (N = 153) and the other from Cincinnati, Ohio (N = 152)--and found a statistically significant inverse association between contact with mental patients' perceptions of how dangerous they are. We find that increased contact is associated with reduced fear among the old and the young, the educated and the less educated, and males and females. Two explanations are possible: (1) contact reduces fear; or (2) perceptions of danger influence the extent to which individuals interact with the mentally ill. We show that when contact is generated by external circumstances so that pre-existing attitudes are unlikely to have brought it on, contact is associated with reduced fear. We interpret this as consistent with the conceptual scheme offered by Jones et al. The implications are optimistic in that former patients may be able to influence attitudes of those they interact with. We note, however, changing others' attitudes may prove problematic in a number of ways for former patients. Finally we indicate some possible policy implications that our results suggest.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
289
    289
  • Thumbnail: Page 
290
    290
  • Thumbnail: Page 
291
    291
  • Thumbnail: Page 
292
    292
  • Thumbnail: Page 
293
    293
  • Thumbnail: Page 
294
    294
  • Thumbnail: Page 
295
    295
  • Thumbnail: Page 
296
    296
  • Thumbnail: Page 
297
    297
  • Thumbnail: Page 
298
    298
  • Thumbnail: Page 
299
    299
  • Thumbnail: Page 
300
    300
  • Thumbnail: Page 
301
    301
  • Thumbnail: Page 
302
    302