Stigmatization of schizophrenia is widespread and its genetic explanation may potentially increase the stigma. The present study investigated whether seeing schizophrenia as a genetic or environmental disorder might influence perceived beliefs towards people with schizophrenia and whether social stigmatizing attitudes were differently perceived the 202 subjects who were recruited. Perceived social stigmatizing attitudes were compared among participants who read two vignettes depicting a person with schizophrenia. Then, the Standardized Stigmatization Questionnaire (SSQ) was administered. A genetic explanation of schizophrenia was more frequently associated with stigmatizing attitudes. Also, there were higher levels of perceived stigmatization in medical students and medical doctors than in other groups based on their social experience or background. However, the sample size was small and this was a non-experimental design; also the SSQ would benefit from more cross-validation. About half of the participants perceived stigmatizing social attitudes. Finally, considering schizophrenia as a genetic disorder influenced participants perception of other people's beliefs about dangerousness and unpredictability and people's desire for social distance.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing.