Challenging two mental illness stigmas: personal responsibility and dangerousness

Schizophr Bull. 2002;28(2):293-309. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.schbul.a006939.


Two stigmatizing attitudes related to dangerousness and personal responsibility may undermine the opportunities of persons with serious mental illness. This study set out to examine path models that explain how these attitudes lead to discriminatory behavior and to assess the impact of antistigma programs on components of personal responsibility and dangerousness models. Two hundred thirteen persons were randomly assigned to one of five antistigma conditions: education on personal responsibility, education on dangerousness, contact with a person with serious mental illness where personal responsibility is discussed, contact where dangerousness is discussed, or no change. Persons completed an attribution questionnaire (AQ) representing personal responsibility and dangerousness path models at pretest, posttest, and 1-week followup. They also completed tasks that represented helping behavior. Goodness of fit indexes from linear structural modeling were mixed for both models but suggested that fear of dangerousness was a key attitude leading to discriminatory behavior. Results also showed that subjects who had contact with persons with serious mental illness experienced greater changes than subjects in the education or control groups did on measures of attribution and helping behavior.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Dangerous Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Social Responsibility*
  • Stereotyping*