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Coping with the Stigma of Mental Illness: Empirically-Grounded Hypotheses from Computer Simulations
ARTICLE

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Social Forces Volume 89, Number 4, ISSN 0037-7732

Abstract

This research demonstrates how affect control theory and its computer program, "Interact", can be used to develop empirically-grounded hypotheses regarding the connection between cultural labels and behaviors. Our demonstration focuses on propositions in the modified labeling theory of mental illness. According to the MLT, negative societal conceptions of the mentally ill become personally relevant upon diagnosis and damage psychiatric patients' self-concept. This, in turn, increases patients' use of three coping behaviors: concealing treatment history, educating others about mental illness and withdrawing from social interaction. We evaluate these propositions by analyzing data generated from "Interact" simulations that incorporate self-meaning data gathered from psychiatric patients. We produce six general principles about the way patients' stigma sentiments (evaluation, potency and activity associated with the cultural category "a mentally ill person") and diagnostic category (adjustment, affective, schizophrenic) jointly shape patients' predicted use of these coping behaviors. (Contains 6 figures, 5 tables, and 5 notes.)

Citation

Kroska, A. & Har, S.K. (2011). Coping with the Stigma of Mental Illness: Empirically-Grounded Hypotheses from Computer Simulations. Social Forces, 89(4), 1315-1339. Retrieved January 28, 2022 from .

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