The present study examined people’s implicit and explicit perceptions of mental illness and compared those attitudes to ratings of fairness for psychiatric hospital policies. The sample consisted of 88 participants, from both Connecticut College and Amazon Mechanical Turk. Data were derived from a Hospital Policy Questionnaire created by the researcher, the Perceptions of Dangerousness of Mental Patients (PDMP) scale, as well as 2 Implicit Association Tests assessing General Attitudes and perceptions of Dangerousness. Results showed no significant association between implicit attitudes and judgments of hospital policies, nor between implicit perceptions of dangerousness and judgments of hospital policies. However, explicit perceptions of dangerousness were shown to be related to fairness ratings of hospital policies in that views that mental patients are less dangerous were associated with unfair ratings of hospital policies. Exploratory analyses showed a significant relationship between personal contact and perceptions of dangerousness, meaning that greater levels of contact were related to perceptions that individuals are not as dangerous. These results show that contact is an important mitigating factor in lowering the stigma associated with mental illness. Another exploratory finding was that there was a significant difference in how Connecticut College students rated hospital policies compared to participants from Amazon Mechanical Turk. Students tended to rate policies as more unfair overall than did those from Amazon Mechanical Turk.
McAleenan, Kristen, "Perceptions of Mental Illness and Mental Health Policy" (2013). Psychology Honors Papers. 34.
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