Friday Factoid: “So, You Don’t Want To Be My Neighbor”: Stigma in Action

Stigma can be expressed in various different ways, however, the current understanding of most psychiatric stigma is based on one’s beliefs about a particular condition rather than concrete behaviors. As a way to draw beliefs and feelings to real world settings, a study was conducted to determine how 114 undergraduate students would react to a particular man that they would meet.  Each of the participants completed several measures of self-reported stigma before stepping into an adjacent room and choosing where to sit in relation to a man. Prior to the meeting the man was introduced as a volunteer at a health agency and was told to either have Type 2 diabetes or schizophrenia. As a part of the experiment, the participants were asked to enter the room and select a chair to sit on as they wait for the volunteer with one of the pre-selected conditions to return. On average those who were told they were meeting an individual with schizophrenia chose to sit further than those expecting to meet someone with diabetes. Their self-reporting showed higher levels of fear and appraisals of dangerousness and unpredictability towards the man with schizophrenia compared to the more well-known medical condition.

Thibodeau, R. & Principino, H. M. (2018). Keep your distance: People sit farther away from a man with schizophrenia versus diabetes. Stigma and Health DOI: 10.1037/sah0000156

Andrew Goebel, MS, LPA (Temp)
WKPIC Doctoral Intern

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