Attitudes and physical distance to an individual with schizophrenia: the moderating effect of self-transcendent values
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- Norman, R.M.G., Sorrentino, R.M., Gawronski, B. et al. Soc Psychiat Epidemiol (2010) 45: 751. doi:10.1007/s00127-009-0117-2
There is evidence that personal value priorities may influence prejudicial behaviors. In particular, it has been hypothesized that those who place a high priority on values such as equality, benevolence and social justice may be less likely to express any prejudicial personal attitudes in behavior. In the present study, we tested this hypothesis in the context of physical distance with reference to a person with schizophrenia. Self-transcendent value priorities and attitudes toward a young woman described as having schizophrenia were assessed in 95 university students. They were then led to anticipate meeting the person and the distance they sat from the expected location of the ill person was assessed.
Women sat closer to the anticipated seat of the person with schizophrenia. In addition, there was a significant interaction between priority placed on self-transcendent values and attitude toward the person in predicting seating distance. There was a significant relationship between favorability of attitudes and sitting closer for those who were low in self-transcendent values, but attitudes did not predict physical proximity for those with high self-transcendent values.
The impact of attitudes toward an individual with schizophrenia and subtle aspects of behavior such as physical proximity appear to be moderated by self-transcendent personal values. The role of implicit in comparison to explicit attitudes in explaining these results is worthy for further investigation.