Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access JSTOR through your library or other institution:

login

Log in through your institution.

Journal Article

Of Fear and Loathing: The Role of 'Disturbing Behavior,' Labels, and Causal Attributions in Shaping Public Attitudes toward People with Mental Illness

Jack K. Martin, Bernice A. Pescosolido and Steven A. Tuch
Journal of Health and Social Behavior
Vol. 41, No. 2 (Jun., 2000), pp. 208-223
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2676306
Page Count: 16
Were these topics helpful?
See something inaccurate? Let us know!

Select the topics that are inaccurate.

Cancel
  • Download ($14.00)
  • Subscribe ($19.50)
  • Add to My Lists
  • Cite this Item
Of Fear and Loathing: The Role of 'Disturbing Behavior,' Labels, and Causal Attributions in Shaping Public Attitudes toward People with Mental Illness
Preview not available

Abstract

Our paper couples previous research on attitudes toward people with mental illness and more general sociological research on attitudes toward "out-groups " to examine the role of five factors that influence the public's willingness to interact with people with mental health problems, including: the nature of the behavior described, causal attributions of the behavior's source, perceived dangerousness of the person, the label of "mental illness," and the sociodemographic characteristics of respondents. Using vignette data from the 1996 General Social Survey (N = 1,444), we find that respondents discriminate among different types of mental health problems by expressing more desire to avoid those with drug and alcohol problems than with those with mental illness. Consistent with research on racial attitudes, we also find that Americans who attribute mental health problems to structural causes (e.g., stress or genetic/biological causes) are more willing to interact with the vignette person than those who see individual causes (e.g., "bad character" or the "way the person was raised") as the root of the problem. However, even controlling for these factors, respondents who label the vignette a "mental illness " also express a preference for greater social distance. Finally, while the sociodemographic characteristics of the respondent appear to play a minimal role in preferences for social distance, the degree of dangerousness that the public ascribes to people with mental health problems is important and appears to mediate the influence of effects of labeling a person as mentally ill.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
208
    208
  • Thumbnail: Page 
209
    209
  • Thumbnail: Page 
210
    210
  • Thumbnail: Page 
211
    211
  • Thumbnail: Page 
212
    212
  • Thumbnail: Page 
213
    213
  • Thumbnail: Page 
214
    214
  • Thumbnail: Page 
215
    215
  • Thumbnail: Page 
216
    216
  • Thumbnail: Page 
217
    217
  • Thumbnail: Page 
218
    218
  • Thumbnail: Page 
219
    219
  • Thumbnail: Page 
220
    220
  • Thumbnail: Page 
221
    221
  • Thumbnail: Page 
222
    222
  • Thumbnail: Page 
223
    223