The effects of a documentary film about schizophrenia on psychiatric stigma

  • Penn D
  • Chamberlin C
  • Mueser K
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This study examined whether viewing a documentary that depicts individuals with schizophrenia can reduce psychiatric stigma. One hundred and sixty-three individuals were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: no documentary film, documentary about polar bears, documentary about fears of being overweight, and documentary about schizophrenia. Participants also completed a battery of tasks assessing attitudes toward persons with schizophrenia, attributions about the disorder, and intentions to interact with individuals with schizophrenia. The findings showed that compared to the other experimental conditions, the documentary about schizophrenia resulted in more benign attributions about schizophrenia (e.g., less likely to blame individuals with schizophrenia for the disorder) but did not change general attitudes about schizophrenia (e.g., perceived dangerousness). The film also did not increase participants' intentions to interact with persons with schizophrenia. These findings could not be attributed to mood changes associated with the film or how much participants liked the film. The findings provide partial support for the hypothesis that a media depiction of persons with schizophrenia can reduce stigma.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Documentary film
  • Education
  • Schizophrenia
  • Stigma

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  • David L. Penn

  • Cliff Chamberlin

  • Kim T. Mueser

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