Evaluation of the effects of education and indirect contact on attitudes towards individuals with mental illness
Keywords:individuals with psychiatric diagnosis, prejudices, social distance, education, contact
AbstractSocial psychologists have identified three successful strategies for reducing prejudice and social distance toward individuals with a psychiatric diagnosis: Protest (suppresses negative attitudes toward psychiatric population), Education (replaces incorrect information with correct ones), and Contact (challenges negative attitudes and behavior through direct interaction with people who suffer from mental illness). The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of education and indirect contact, in high school population, on reducing prejudice and social distance towards individuals with a psychiatric diagnosis. The sample consisted of 92 pupils, divided into 3 groups. The first group received Contact treatment, the second received Education, and the third, the control group, only filled out questionnaires. Prejudice and social distance were measured before the implementation of strategies and two weeks later using The Mental Disorder Prejudice Scale and a questionnaire for measuring social distance. A linear correlation analysis showed a significant relationship between the level of prejudice and social distance towards individuals with psychiatric diagnosis. A 3x2 analysis of variance with repeated measures was used to analyze the effect different strategies had on reducing the level of prejudice against people with psychiatric diagnosis and the degree of prejudice change before and after the experimental treatment. There were significant interactions between the types of intervention and time. T-test for paired samples showed that a significant change had occurred only in the Education group. There was no significant change in the level of social distance towards individuals with psychiatric diagnoses over time. The results suggest that education about mental illness leads to changes in cognitive but not in behavioral aspects of prejudice toward mental disorders. Contact had no effect on reducing prejudice toward people with psychiatric diagnosis, which could be attributed to the specific, indirect implementation of this strategy.
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How to Cite
Bošković, T. (2013). Evaluation of the effects of education and indirect contact on attitudes towards individuals with mental illness. Primenjena Psihologija, 6(1), 67–80. https://doi.org/10.19090/pp.2013.1.67-80