Does empathy and adult attachment affect the stigma placed on individuals with mental health conditions?
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AbstractCurrent research suggests that mental health stigma can lead to discrimination, social disadvantages, self-stigma, and a lack of help seeking. Adult attachment styles are proposed to influence an individual’s empathy levels, which can decrease mental health stigma. This study is a replication study of Webb et al, (2016) with slight differences in methodology. It investigated if adult attachment and empathy levels affected the stigma placed on individuals with mental health disorders. The hypotheses were as follows; (1) a schizophrenia vignette would produce more stigma than homelessness, (2) participants with greater empathy levels would have lower levels of stigma, regardless of vignette type, (3), adult attachment would moderate the relationship between empathy and stigma, and the secure adult attachment style would produce decreased levels of stigma and greater empathy. Participants (N=80) empathy was measured via an Empathy quotient-short Form (Wakabayashi et al, 2006) and adult attachment styles via a Relationship Questionnaire (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991). Participants read a vignette describing and agitated man in a library, described as either homeless or schizophrenic. They then rated 11 stigma statements. 2x2 ANOVA results found partial support for hypothesis 1,as the main effect of status on stigma was significant, F (1, 75) = 6.11, p <.02, and the interaction between vignette and status on stigma levels was also significant, F (1, 75) =4.10, p <.05. Students stigmatised schizophrenia less than the general population. Correlation analysis concluded that empathy was significantly related to stigma (.43** (77)) supporting hypothesis 2, and regression analysis showed a significant main effect for empathy on stigma at step 1 (β= -.43, t=3.77, p< .001) and step 2 (β=-1.00, t= -1.87, p< .07). Regression results lack support hypothesis 3 as the total amount of variance for stigma did not increase significantly when interactive terms for empathy and adult attachment style were added (R²=.24, ΔR²= .04, ΔF (5.34) = .52, p = .03. Suggesting the interaction between empathy and adult attachment style does not predict stigma. Overall empathy related to stigma within this study. Future research should determine if empathy training techniques can reduce mental health stigma. A larger sample size is needed to gain more individuals from the four attachment styles to determine their effects on stigma more effectively. Another key finding was that stigma tendencies differed between student and non-student (general population) participants. Future research should investigate if training interventions and prior knowledge are beneficial for the reduction of stigma.
CitationRattu, T. (2017). Does empathy and adult attachment affect the stigma placed on individuals with mental health conditions? (Master's thesis). University of Chester, United Kingdom.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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