The Role of Gender in Mental-Illness Stigma

Purdue University.
Psychological Science (Impact Factor: 4.43). 02/2009; 20(2):169-73. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02282.x
Source: PubMed


The stigma of mental illness imposes substantial costs on both the individuals who experience mental illness and society at large. Understanding the psychological underpinnings of this stigma is therefore a matter of practical and theoretical significance. In a national, Web-based survey experiment, we investigated the role played by gender in moderating mental-illness stigma. Respondents read a case summary in which the gender of the person was orthogonally manipulated along with the type of disorder; the cases reflected either a male-typical disorder or a female-typical disorder. Results indicated that when cases were gender typical, respondents felt more negative affect, less sympathy, and less inclination to help, compared to when cases were gender atypical. This pattern can be explained by the fact that gender-typical cases were significantly less likely to be seen as genuine mental disturbances.

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Available from: James Wirth, May 19, 2014
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    • "g . , Angermeyer & Matschinger , 1996 ; Mackie , Devos , & Smith , 2000 ; Wirth & Bodenhausen , 2009 ) . The mock - ery involved in disease trivialization may prompt amusement in other users who " get " the disparaging joke . "
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    ABSTRACT: A quick search of social media websites demonstrates that users often describe their benign behaviors (e.g., organizing drawers or color-coding) as related to obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). Yet, the actual disease is complex and often much more severe than suggested by Twitter users who employ the term #OCD. The present experiment examines the effects of such disease trivialization on social media users’ perceptions of the disease, emotional reactions, and intentions to take action related to the disease. To do so, it first explicates the concept of disease trivialization as a three-part phenomenon involving oversimplification, decreased severity, and mockery. Findings from an experiment (N = 574) indicate that different patterns of emotional reactions can be found in response to framing of OCD as either trivial, clinical, or both trivial and clinical. Moreover, significant interactions between independent variables were found. Participant gender and preexisting familiarity with OCD also shaped participant perceptions and behavioral intentions. Directions for future work are discussed.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Imagination Cognition and Personality
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    • "Gender differences, gender-typical symptoms , and stigmatisation have been previously studied by Wirth and Bodenhausen (2009), and although their study focused on the relationship between gender and public stigma, some of the processes they uncovered may analogue to the processes at play in the relationship between gender and SBA. Specifically, Wirth and Bodenhausen (2009) examined whether a PWMI's gender moderates the degree of stigma experienced and found that gender-typical behaviour is attributed to the personal traits of the actor, what may result in greater blame, and being held personally responsible for the stigmatised condition (Weiner, 1995; Wirth & Bodenhausen, 2009). In the context of female family members of PWMI, it may be that overprotectiveness lends itself to blaming as it is perceived by others to represent typically female behaviour and may lead them to hold these women personally responsible for the onset or continuation of their family members' mental illness (Wirth & Bodenhausen, 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: People with mental illness are not the sole recipients of stigmatisation; their immediate family members may be subjected to stigma by association. Through semi-structured interviews, we investigated experiences of stigma by association among 23 immediate family members of people with mental illness. Participants reported experiencing stigma by association from community members, mental health professionals, and civil servants. Familial relationship, co-residence, and the gender of participants appeared to play a role in their stigma experiences; parents and spouses reported different manifestations of stigma by association than siblings and children, participants who lived together with their family member with mental illness reported increased experiences of stigma by association, and in contrast to male participants, female participants reported others thinking they are overprotective and as such perpetuated, maintained, or sustained their family members' mental illness. The relevance of these factors points to the need for tailored education and emotional support provision to family members of people with mental illness. Moreover, in-service training for mental health professionals should include the development of relevant social skills that enable the recognition of familial relationships and roles, and family members' fears, concerns, and problems. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology
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    • "For instance, doctors are more likely to diagnose depression in women compared to men, even when a male patient's depression test scores and symptoms are practically identical (Afifi, 2007). Wirth and Bodenhausen (2009) found that individuals with gender-atypical mental illnesses elicit more favorable reactions from others than do those with a gender-typical diagnosis. In their experiment, when a male target was said to be suffering from depression (a mental illness stereotypically defined as female) participants displayed increased sympathetic responses stemming from a belief that the condition was caused by a biological issue instead of personal weakness. "
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    ABSTRACT: Informal discussions of mental illness take place every day in social media. In the case of obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), in particular, widespread use of the hashtag “#OCD” indicates that social media users often trivialize the disease. The present study used a 3 × 2 × 2 between-subjects fully factorial online experiment (N = 574, recruited from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform) to test the impact of trivialized framing of this disease on perceptions of social media users who employ such language, as well as on perceptions of people with OCD as a group. Additionally, this study tested the effects of the gender of the Twitter avatar and self-identification in the avatar biography as an individual with OCD on these perceptions. Three-way analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) assessed the impact of the manipulations (i.e., content frame, gender of the avatar, self-identification with OCD). Results indicate that language use, gender, and self-identification influence impression formation in a social media environment.
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