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Coping with the Stigma of Mental Illness: Exploring the Role of Stigma Sentiments and Diagnosis

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Abstract:

According to the modified labeling theory of mental illness, stigma beliefs–the expectation that individuals will devalue and discriminate against psychiatric patients–should increase patients’ use of three coping behaviors: concealing treatment history, educating others about mental illness, and withdrawing from social interaction. Using Interact, a computerized version of affect control theory that simulates social interaction, we examine the way that stigma sentiments (evaluation, potency, and activity associated with the cultural category “a mentally ill person”) and diagnostic category (adjustment, affective, and schizophrenic) jointly shape the expected use of these behaviors. As predicted, stigma sentiments increase affective patients’ expected use of these coping behaviors, but contrary to predictions, stigma sentiments reduce adjustment and schizophrenic patients’ expected use of these behaviors. Diagnosis also affects patients’ coping style: schizophrenic patients are predicted to educate more often than they conceal or withdraw, while adjustment and affective patients are predicted to conceal and withdraw more often than educate. Also, consistent with predictions, stigma sentiments increase patients’ expected use of education over secrecy and withdrawal. However, we also found that diagnostic category shapes the relationship between stigma sentiments and expected use of specific coping behaviors, with the affective patient results matching predictions most closely.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

stigma (184), patient (165), behavior (154), cope (141), sentiment (135), use (108), affect (99), interact (82), educ (72), event (69), mental (68), withdraw (62), actor (62), epa (61), ill (59), diagnosi (56), conceal (55), mean (53), schizophren (51), like (51), evalu (47),

Author's Keywords:

affect control theory, mental illness, modified labeling theory, stigma sentiments
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Name: American Sociological Association Annual Meeting
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MLA Citation:

Harkness, Sarah. and Kroska, Amy. "Coping with the Stigma of Mental Illness: Exploring the Role of Stigma Sentiments and Diagnosis" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Sheraton Boston and the Boston Marriott Copley Place, Boston, MA, Jul 31, 2008 <Not Available>. 2014-12-01 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p241465_index.html>

APA Citation:

Harkness, S. K. and Kroska, A. , 2008-07-31 "Coping with the Stigma of Mental Illness: Exploring the Role of Stigma Sentiments and Diagnosis" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Sheraton Boston and the Boston Marriott Copley Place, Boston, MA Online <PDF>. 2014-12-01 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p241465_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: According to the modified labeling theory of mental illness, stigma beliefs–the expectation that individuals will devalue and discriminate against psychiatric patients–should increase patients’ use of three coping behaviors: concealing treatment history, educating others about mental illness, and withdrawing from social interaction. Using Interact, a computerized version of affect control theory that simulates social interaction, we examine the way that stigma sentiments (evaluation, potency, and activity associated with the cultural category “a mentally ill person”) and diagnostic category (adjustment, affective, and schizophrenic) jointly shape the expected use of these behaviors. As predicted, stigma sentiments increase affective patients’ expected use of these coping behaviors, but contrary to predictions, stigma sentiments reduce adjustment and schizophrenic patients’ expected use of these behaviors. Diagnosis also affects patients’ coping style: schizophrenic patients are predicted to educate more often than they conceal or withdraw, while adjustment and affective patients are predicted to conceal and withdraw more often than educate. Also, consistent with predictions, stigma sentiments increase patients’ expected use of education over secrecy and withdrawal. However, we also found that diagnostic category shapes the relationship between stigma sentiments and expected use of specific coping behaviors, with the affective patient results matching predictions most closely.


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