Media and the Criminalization of Mental Illness: The Impact of Stigma Reduction Videos

By: Samantha Wilcox

Advising Faculty: Ann Sloan Devlin

This research investigated the effectiveness of different stigma reduction campaigns following exposure to a newscast that depicted as criminal a mentally ill defendant in a mass shooting case. Participants included 183 individuals, 94 women and 89 men, who represented all major regions of the United States. Participants were recruited through Amazon Mechanical Turk, the online crowdsourcing marketplace. The sample was predominantly White and ages of participants ranged from 18 to 69. The study used a 2 (Newscast) x 3 (Intervention) between subjects factorial design to investigate the hypothesis that participants exposed to either cognitive or emotional anti-stigma campaign would have less punitive scores on the Criminal Responsibility, Mental Illness Beliefs, and Attitudes Toward Schizophrenia measures, than would participants in conditions exposed to a healthy eating habits video. Additionally, it was anticipated that punitive attitudes would be higher for participants exposed to footage of movie theater shooter, James Holmes, than would those who were not. The results of the Factorial MANOVA were nonsignificant, however there was a significant main effect for type of intervention on the Mental Illness Beliefs scale, F(1, 183) = 4.22, p = .016. A post-hoc Tukey test indicated a significant difference between the cognitive anti-stigma video and the healthy eating habits video, p=.015.

View this honors paper at Digital Commons @ Connecticut College.

Related Fields: Psychology