Social Stigma, Gender, and Mental Health Care

Tutrone, Taylor [Browse]
Senior thesis
54 pages


Comer, Ronald [Browse]
Woolfolk, Robert [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Psychology [Browse]
Class year
Summary note
Research shows that stigma is one of the most significant barriers in the treatment of mental disorders because people want to avoid labels of being mentally ill or in treatment. Social stigma of mental illness and treatment consists of notions that the individual is socially undesirable or abnormal. This study investigated the influence of the gender and location described in vignettes of target characters on participants’ judgments of and stigmatizing attitudes towards targets. Furthermore, the gender of participants was taken into account. Results show that associating a relatively normal target with a certain gender (male/female) or location (doctor’s office/psychiatrist’s office/neutral) produced stigma. Namely, female targets were rated lower than male targets on a composite variable measuring perceived mental health and emotionality in the contexts of both a doctor’s office and a psychiatrist’s office in relation to the neutral context. Male targets, on the other hand, were rated comparably to female targets in the neutral condition, but were rated no differently on mental health and emotionality in the context of either a doctor’s office or a psychiatrist’s office. Male targets were perceived to be generally more dangerous than females and were perceived to be more dangerous than women only in the context of a psychiatrist’s office. Surprisingly, targets were perceived to be less lazy in the context of psychiatrist’s office compared to a doctor’s office. Additionally surprising, male subjects generally perceived targets more positively on mental health- and emotionality-related variables.

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