Socioeconomic status and mental illness stigma: the impact of mental illness controllability attributions and personal responsibility judgments

Stephen Foster, Molly O’Mealey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Prior research has suggested that higher levels of socioeconomic status (SES) may be linked with heightened mental illness stigma (MIS). It has been posited that this link is due to the resource-rich environment high-SES individuals live in, which predisposes them to seeing the certain phenomena as being more controllable in nature than low-SES individuals. Aims: The current study intended to address the attributional mechanisms behind the SES-MIS link. Methods: In a sample of 932 participants, we collected self-reported SES along with the controllability attributions and personal responsibility judgments participants make for individuals with mental illnesses. Results: Analyses indicated that SES was significantly associated with greater MIS levels, and that this link was significantly mediated by controllability attributions and personal responsibility judgments. Conclusions: Findings suggest that high-SES individuals are more likely to see mental illness as due to internal, controllable factors, which leads to blaming the individual for mental illness onset and, ultimately, greater mental illness stigma. These results provide support for more socioeconomically diverse committees and panels where mental health funding decisions are made due to inherent attributional biases which may be present along the SES spectrum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Mental Health
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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