Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

The recognition of mental health disorders and its association with psychiatric scepticism, knowledge of psychiatry, and the Big Five personality factors: an investigation using the overclaiming technique

Abstract

The present study examined the general public’s ability to recognise mental health disorders and this ability’s association with psychiatric scepticism, knowledge of psychiatry, and the Big Five personality factors. A total of 477 members of the British general public completed an overclaiming scale, in which they were asked to rate the degree to which they believed 20 mental health disorders (of which five were foils designed to resemble real disorders) were real or fake. Participants also completed a novel scale measuring psychiatric scepticism, a single-item measure of knowledge of psychiatry, and a measure of the Big Five personality factors. Results showed that participants were significantly more likely to rate foils as fake disorders than real disorders. In addition, the difference between real and foil ratings was significantly predicted by knowledge of psychiatry, psychiatric scepticism, and the Big Five personality factors of agreeableness and openness to experience. These results are discussed in relation to the overclaiming technique as a novel method to study mental health literacy.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Notes

  1. 1.

    Calculating a bias or difference index such as this is meaningful in its own right, as demonstrated in studies of overclaiming in relation to intelligence (see [42, 43].

References

  1. 1.

    American Psychological Association (1994) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 4th edn. APA, Washington, DC

  2. 2.

    Andrews G, Henderson S (eds) (2000) Unmet need in psychiatry: problems, resources, responses. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

  3. 3.

    Angermeyer MC, Brier P, Dietrich H, Kenzine D, Matschinger H (2005) Public attitudes toward psychiatric treatment: an international comparison. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 40:855–864

  4. 4.

    Angermeyer MC, Dietrich H (2006) Public beliefs about and attitudes towards people with mental illness: a review of population studies. Acta Psychiatr Scand 113:163–179

  5. 5.

    Angermeyer MC, Matschinger H (2003) Public beliefs about schizophrenia and depression: similarities and differences. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 38:526–534

  6. 6.

    Angermeyer MC, Matschinger H (1999) Social representations of mental illness among the public. In: Guimon J, Fisher W, Sartorius N (eds) The image of madness: the public facing mental illness and psychiatric treatment. Karger, Basel, pp 20–28

  7. 7.

    Angermeyer MC, Matschinger H, Riedel-Heller SG (1999) Whom to ask for help in case of a mental disorder? Preferences of the lay public. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 34:202–210

  8. 8.

    Barney LJ, Griffiths KM, Jorm AF, Christensen H (2006) Stigma about depression and its impact on help-seeking intentions. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 40:51–54

  9. 9.

    Bijl R, Ravelli A, van Zessen G (1998) Prevalence of psychiatric disorder in the general population: results of the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study (NEMESIS). Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 33:587–595

  10. 10.

    Cattell RB (1966) The screen test for the number of factors. Multivar Behav Res 1:140–161

  11. 11.

    Chamorro-Premuzic T (2007) Personality and individual differences. Blackwell, Oxford

  12. 12.

    Dietrich S, Beck M, Bujantugs B, Kenzine D, Matschinger H, Angermeyer MC (2004) The relationship between public causal beliefs and social distance toward mentally ill people. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 38:348–354

  13. 13.

    Farrer L, Leach L, Griffiths KM, Christensen H, Jorm AF (2008) Age differences in mental health literacy. BMC Public Health 8:125–133

  14. 14.

    Furnham A (1994) Explaining health and illness: lay perceptions on current and future health, the causes of illness and the nature of recovery. Soc Sci Med 39:715–725

  15. 15.

    Furnham A, Daoud Y, Swami V (2010) How to spot a psychopath: Lay theories of psychopathy. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol (in press)

  16. 16.

    Furnham A, Igboaka A (2007) Young people’s recognition and understanding of schizophrenia: a cross-cultural study of young people from Britain and Nigeria. Int J Soc Psychiatry 53:430–446

  17. 17.

    Furnham A, Raja N, Khan U (2008) A cross-cultural comparison of British and Pakistani medical students’ understanding of schizophrenia. Psychiatry Res 159:308–319

  18. 18.

    Furnham A, Wong L (2007) A cross-cultural comparison of British and Chinese beliefs about the causes, behaviour manifestations and treatment of schizophrenia. Psychiatry Res 151:123–138

  19. 19.

    Goldney RD, Fisher LJ, Dal Grande E, Taylor AW, Hawthorne G (2007) Have education and publicity about depression made a difference? Comparison of prevalence, service use and excess costs in South Australia 1998 and 2004. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 41:38–53

  20. 20.

    Gosling SD, Rentfrow PJ, Swann WB Jr (2003) A very brief measure of the Big-Five personality domains. J Res Pers 37:504–528

  21. 21.

    Haslam N, Ernst D (2002) Essentialist beliefs about mental disorders. J Soc Clin Psychol 21:628–644

  22. 22.

    Highet NJ, Luscombe GM, Davenport TA, Burns JM, Hickie IB (2006) Positive relationships between public awareness activity and recognition of the impacts of depression in Australia. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 40:55–58

  23. 23.

    Hugo CJ, Boshoff DE, Traut A, Zungu-Dirwayi N, Stein DJ (2003) Community attitudes toward and knowledge of mental illness in South Africa. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 38:715–719

  24. 24.

    Jorm AF (2000) Mental health literacy: public knowledge and beliefs about mental disorders. Br J Psychiatry 177:396–401

  25. 25.

    Jorm AF, Angermeyer MC, Katschnig H (2000) Public knowledge and attitude to mental disorders: a limiting factor in the optimal use of treatment services. In: Andrews G, Henderson S (eds) Unmet need in psychiatry: problems, resources, responses. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 399–413

  26. 26.

    Jorm AF, Blewitt KA, Griffiths KM, Kitchener BA, Parslow RA (2005) Mental health first aid responses of the public: results from an Australian national survey. BMC Psychiatry 5:9

  27. 27.

    Jorm AF, Christensen H, Griffiths KM (2006) Changes in depression awareness and attitudes in Australia: the impact of beyondblue: the national depression initiative. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 40:42–46

  28. 28.

    Jorm AF, Christensen H, Griffiths KM (2005) The impact of beyondblue: the national depression initiative on the Australian public’s recognition of depression and beliefs about treatment. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 39:248–254

  29. 29.

    Jorm AF, Korten AE, Jacomb PA, Christensen H, Rodgers B, Pollitt P (1997) ‘Mental health literacy’: a survey of the public’s ability to recognise mental disorders and their beliefs about the effectiveness of treatment. Med J Aust 166:182–186

  30. 30.

    Jorm AF, Nakane Y, Christensen H, Yoshioka K, Griffiths KM, Wata Y (2005) Public beliefs about treatment and outcome of mental disorders: a comparison of Australia and Japan. BMC Med 3:12

  31. 31.

    Kessler RC, Berglund P, Demler O, Jin R, Merikangas KR, Walters EE (2005) Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Arch Gen Psychiatry 62:593–602

  32. 32.

    Kline P (1986) Handbook of test construction. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London

  33. 33.

    Lauber C, Nordt C, Falcato L, Rössler W (2003) Do people recognise mental illness? Factors influencing mental health literacy. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 253:248–251

  34. 34.

    Lawton J (2003) Lay experiences of health and illness: past research and future agendas. Sociol Health Illn 25:23–40

  35. 35.

    Link BG, Phelan JC, Bresnaham M, Stueve A, Pescosolido BA (1999) Public conceptions of mental illness: labels, causes, dangerousness, and social distance. Am J Public Health 89:1328–1333

  36. 36.

    Magliano L, Fiorillo A, De Rosa C, Malangone C, Maj M (2004) Beliefs about schizophrenia in Italy: a comparative nationwide survey of the general public, mental health professionals, and patients’ relatives. Can J Psychiatry 49:332–340

  37. 37.

    McCrae RR, Costa PT Jr (1997) Personality trait structure as a human universal. Am Psychol 52:509–516

  38. 38.

    Mond JM, Hays PJ, Rodgers B, Owen C (2008) Mental health literacy and eating disorders: what do women with bulimic eating disorders think and know about bulimia nervosa and its treatment? J Ment Health 17:565–575

  39. 39.

    Murray CJ, Lopez AD (1996) Evidence-based health policy: lessons from the Global Burden of Disease Study. Science 274:740–743

  40. 40.

    Paykel ES, Hart D, Priest RG (1998) Changes in public attitudes to depression during the Defeat Depression Campaign. Br J Psychiatry 173:519–522

  41. 41.

    Paulhus DL, Bruce (1990) Validation of the over-claiming questionnaire: a preliminary study. Paper presented at the meeting of the Canadian Psychological Association, Ottawa

  42. 42.

    Paulhus DL, Harms PD (2004) Measuring cognitive ability with the overclaiming technique. Intelligence 32:297–314

  43. 43.

    Paulhus DL, Harms PD, Bruce MN, Lysy DC (2003) The over-claiming technique: measuring self-enhancement independent of ability. J Pers Soc Psychol 84:681–693

  44. 44.

    Read J, Haslam N, Davies E (2009) The need to rely on evidence not ideology in stigma research. Acta Psychiatr Scand 119:412–413

  45. 45.

    Schnittker J (2003) Misgivings of medicine? African Americans’ skepticism of psychiatric medication. J Health Soc Behav 44:506–524

  46. 46.

    Sobocki P, Lekander I, Borgstrom F, Strom O, Runeson B (2007) The economic burden of depression in Sweden from 1997 to 2005. Eur Psychiatry 22:146–152

  47. 47.

    Swami V, Arteche A, Chamorro-Premuzic T, Maakip I, Stanistreet D, Furnham A (2010) Lay perceptions of current and future health, the causes of illness, and the nature of recovery: explaining health and illness in Malaysia. Br J Health Psychol (in press)

  48. 48.

    Swami V, Furnham A, Kannan K, Sinniah D (2008) Lay beliefs about schizophrenia and its treatment in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. Int J Soc Psychiatry 54:164–179

  49. 49.

    Swami V, Loo P-W, Furnham A (2010) Public knowledge and beliefs about depression among urban and rural Malays in Malaysia. Int J Soc Psychiatry (in press)

  50. 50.

    Tabachnick BG, Fidell LS (2001) Using multivariate statistics, 4th edn. Harper Collins, New York

  51. 51.

    Tanaka G, Ogawa T, Inadomi H, Kikuchi Y, Ohta Y (2003) Effects of an educational program on public attitudes towards mental illness. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 57:595–602

  52. 52.

    Van Vorhees BW, Fogel J, Houston TK, Cooper LA, Wang NY, Ford DE (2006) Attitudes and illness factors associated with low perceived need for depression treatment among young adults. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 41:746–754

  53. 53.

    Wright A, Harris MG, Wiggers JH, Jorm AF, Cotton SM, Harrigan SM, Hurworth RE, McGorry PD (2005) Recognition of depression and psychosis by young Australians and their beliefs about treatment. Med J Aust 183:18–23

  54. 54.

    Wright A, Jorm AF, Harris MG, McGorry PD (2007) What’s in a name? Is accurate recognition and labelling of mental disorders by young people associated with better help-seeking and treatment preferences? Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 42:244–250

Download references

Acknowledgments

We are grateful for the assistance of Idris Alsagoff, Adnan Haque, Nicolas S. Alexander with data collection.

Author information

Correspondence to Viren Swami.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Swami, V., Persaud, R. & Furnham, A. The recognition of mental health disorders and its association with psychiatric scepticism, knowledge of psychiatry, and the Big Five personality factors: an investigation using the overclaiming technique. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 46, 181–189 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-010-0193-3

Download citation

Keywords

  • Mental health literacy
  • Overclaiming
  • Psychiatric knowledge
  • Psychiatric scepticism
  • Big Five