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Recent correlational research has indicated that belief in a continuum of psychiatric problems is related to decreased psychiatric stigma. These findings have generated enthusiasm to conceive antistigma programming centered on encouraging embrace of continuum beliefs. However, the extant correlational literature does little to support the prospects of manipulation of continuum beliefs. Moreover, several factors converge to suggest that an experimental manipulation of continuum beliefs cannot easily be achieved. Volunteers in an online study read a detailed description of a young man with schizophrenia and were then randomized to read either (a) a summary of research attesting to a continuum view of schizophrenia, (b) a summary of research attesting to a categorical view of schizophrenia, or (c) no additional material. Respondents also completed self-report measures of the strength of their endorsement of continuum and categorical views of schizophrenia. Consistent with published correlational findings, greater endorsement of the continuum view was related to less desire for social distance, lesser endorsement of the unpredictability stereotype, and marginally less fear. On the other hand, there was no evidence that experimental manipulation of continuum beliefs affected stigma. The current findings are discussed in the context of other recent continuum-based antistigma interventions. Additional work is needed to more fully evaluate the prospects of such an approach.




© 2016 American Psychological Association.

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