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ABSTRACT: A widely prevalent stereotype connected with schizophrenia is its misperception as split personality. We examine whether the popular meaning of the term schizophrenia differs in countries of different cultural imprint by conducting an international cross-cultural comparison of public associations with the word schizophrenia in a Western and a Non-Western industrialized country. We analyze data from two representative population surveys in Novosibirsk, Russia (n = 745), and large German cities (n = 952) that used identical questions and sampling procedures. Unprompted associations with schizophrenia are compared by assigning them to a differentiated categorical system. 31.6% of respondents in Germany associated split personality with schizophrenia, compared to 2.0% in Novosibirsk. Logistic regression analysis controlling for age, gender and educational achievement demonstrated that country differences were independent of socio-demographic variables. Mention of split personality increased significantly with higher education. In Novosibirsk, associations with abnormality and unpredictability prevailed. We hypothesize on those cultural particularities in both countries that have shaped the different public understanding of the term and discuss implications for anti-stigma interventions.
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 11/2007; 42(10):780-6. · 2.86 Impact Factor