Intergroup contact and prejudice against people with schizophrenia

Keon West, Miles Hewstone, Simon Lolliot
Journal of Social Psychology 2014, 154 (3): 217-32
There is a growing awareness that responses to mental health disorders differ according to the label. Still, research on contact and prejudice against people with mental health disorders has generally focused on the broader label, "mental illness," as though various disorders were interchangeable. The present research specifically investigated the relationship between intergroup contact and avoidance of people with schizophrenia--a particularly stigmatized and challenging group--as well as mediators of that relationship. In Study 1, 78 students completed measures of their prior contact with and prejudice against people with schizophrenia. Prior contact predicted less desired avoidance of people with schizophrenia, and this relationship was mediated by more favorable attitudes. Study 2 (N = 122) replicated the results of Study 1, and also found that less fear and less intergroup anxiety mediated the relationship between contact and avoidance. This suggests that contact may effectively reduce prejudice, even against this highly stigmatized group.

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