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Attitudes toward the Mentally Ill: The Effects of Label and Beliefs

Daniel W. Socall and Thomas Holtgraves
The Sociological Quarterly
Vol. 33, No. 3 (Autumn, 1992), pp. 435-445
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Midwest Sociological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4121327
Page Count: 11
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Attitudes toward the Mentally Ill: The Effects of Label and Beliefs
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Abstract

Labeling theory posits that people labeled mentally ill experience negative societal reactions. Past research on this question is contradictory, due primarily to methodological problems. This study overcomes some of these problems by having respondents indicate their willingness to interact with a person with a specific mental disorder, or with an identically behaving person with a specific physical disorder. As expected, respondents reject the mentally ill significantly more than identically behaving physically ill persons, as supports labeling theory. Respondents also consider the mentally ill less predictable and to have less positive outcomes than those with physical illness. These beliefs highly correlate with rejection and account for some, but not all, of the effects of label on rejection.

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