Primary objective: To determine how visible markers of brain injury interact with people's knowledge about brain injury to influence people's attributions for undesirable behaviours of a person with brain injury. RESEARCH DESIGN, METHOD AND PROCEDURES: Scenarios in Experiment 1 (n = 98) and Experiment 2 (n = 148) described an adolescent pictured with or without a head scar, who showed four behavioural changes. Participants rated two causal attributions for each behaviour: brain injury and adolescence. Experiment 1 varied information that the adolescent had a brain injury and Experiment 2 assessed participants' familiarity with brain injury.
Main outcomes and results: The presence of a head scar increased attributions to brain injury. In Experiment 1, participants not informed about the brain injury attributed the behaviours more to adolescence than to brain injury than informed participants. In Experiment 2, in the 'no scar' condition participants familiar with brain injury attributed the behaviours more to brain injury than those who were not.
Conclusion: Markers of brain injury interact with people's knowledge about brain injury in shaping people's attributions for the behaviour of persons with brain injury. When people attribute sequelae of the brain injury to other causes, this may hinder appropriate treatment.