Automatic stereotyping against people with schizophrenia, schizoaffective and affective disorders

Nicolas Rüsch*, Patrick W. Corrigan, Andrew R. Todd, Galen V. Bodenhausen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Similar to members of the public, people with mental illness may exhibit general negative automatic prejudice against their own group. However, it is unclear whether more specific negative stereotypes are automatically activated among diagnosed individuals and how such automatic stereotyping may be related to self-reported attitudes and emotional reactions. We therefore studied automatically activated reactions toward mental illness among 85 people with schizophrenia, schizoaffective or affective disorders as well as among 50 members of the general public, using a Lexical Decision Task to measure automatic stereotyping. Deliberately endorsed attitudes and emotional reactions were assessed by self-report. Independent of diagnosis, people with mental illness showed less negative automatic stereotyping than did members of the public. Among members of the public, stronger automatic stereotyping was associated with more self-reported shame about a potential mental illness and more anger toward stigmatized individuals. Reduced automatic stereotyping in the diagnosed group suggests that people with mental illness might not entirely internalize societal stigma. Among members of the public, automatic stereotyping predicted negative emotional reactions to people with mental illness. Initiatives to reduce the impact of public stigma and internalized stigma should take automatic stereotyping and related emotional aspects of stigma into account.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-39
Number of pages6
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 30 2011


  • Anger
  • Prejudice
  • Semantic priming
  • Shame
  • Stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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