How Lay Theories Influence Our Mental Health

  • Adrian FurnhamEmail author


This chapter looks at the predominantly psychiatric and psychological literature on how lay people understand mental health and illness. It is concerned with the attribution of cause as well as the understanding of the mechanisms and processes that lay people employ to comprehend mental health and illness in themselves and others. It looks at the typical types of explanations they favor for the cause of mental illnesses from biological and genetic to psychological and sociological. It also examines what people believe are the most efficacious ways of treating these problems from pharmaceutical cures to classic psychotherapy. The chapter also looks at the literature that examines the link between lay theories of cause and cure: whether these are coherently and logically linked. The great rise in mental health literacy (MHL) research shows what an important and applied area of research this is.


Mental health literacy Lay theories Aetiology Cure Treatment 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Clinical, Educational and Health PsychologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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