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Public attitude toward the mentally ill as a function of prior personal experience


A survey of public attitude was conducted to assess the relationship between the degree of past exposure to the mentally ill and expressed levels of social rejection. Attitudes held toward the mentally ill were found not to be uni-dimensional but rather were comprised of two principle factors: a) rejection in social relationships and b) rejection in situations requiring social responsibility. High, Moderate, and Low groups in level of direct experience with the mentally ill, as measured on a Guttman Scale of personal experience, differed significantly in their degree of “social rejection” of the mentally ill. The more extensive the personal experience with individuals who required psychiatric hospital care, the more favorable the response in accepting them in social activities and in trusting them in situations of social responsibility. Implications of the research findings, in regard to public education efforts and in regard to community placement of ex-patients, are considered.

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Trute, B., Loewen, A. Public attitude toward the mentally ill as a function of prior personal experience. Soc Psychiatry 13, 79–84 (1978).

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  • Social Responsibility
  • Social Activity
  • Research Finding
  • Social Relationship
  • Personal Experience