Data for: On Continuum Beliefs and Psychiatric Stigma: Similarity to a Person with Psychiatric Problems Can Feel Too Close for Comfort
Abstract: Individuals with psychiatric problems are subject to notable public stigma. Continuum belief interventions that blur boundaries between “normal” individuals and individuals with psychiatric problems have shown promise in reducing public stigma. However, interventions delivered to date have afforded participants considerable psychological distance from individuals with mental illness. An intervention that compels greater psychological closeness to individuals with mental illness may lead to inflated appraisals of vulnerability, increased anxiety/threat, and an attenuated intervention effect on psychiatric stigma. One hundred thirty-five participants listened to a bogus interview involving a person they were told has schizophrenia but who otherwise shared numerous characteristics in common with participants, thereby underscoring a sense of similarity. Participants then read a bogus research article that either (1) was agnostic with respect to the continuum/categorical distinction, (2) attested to a continuum view of schizophrenia, or (3) attested to a categorical view of schizophrenia. As expected, the continuum intervention had no effect on psychiatric stigma. Also as expected, the continuum intervention inflated participants’ sense of threat and feelings of anxiety, measured via self-report and a lexical decision task. Psychiatric stigma scholars who have expressed enthusiasm for developing stigma reduction programming centered on continuum belief should heed these findings.