Collections > UNC Scholarly Publications > Article > Three Strategies for Changing Attributions about Severe Mental Illness

The effects of three strategies for changing stigmatizing attitudes—education (which replaces myths about mental illness with accurate conceptions), contact (which challenges public attitudes about mental illness through direct interactions with persons who have these disorders), and protest (which seeks to suppress stigmatizing attitudes about mental illness)—were examined on attributions about schizophrenia and other severe mental illnesses. One hundred and fifty-two students at a community college were randomly assigned to one of the three strategies or a control condition. They completed a questionnaire about attributions toward six groups—depression, psychosis, cocaine addiction, mental retardation, cancer, and AIDS—prior to and after completing the assigned condition. As expected, results showed that education had no effect on attributions about physical disabilities but led to improved attributions in all four psychiatric groups. Contact produced positive changes that exceeded education effects in attributions about targeted psychiatric disabilities: depression and psychosis. Protest yielded no significant changes in attributions about any group. This study also examined the effects of these strategies on processing information about mental illness.