Political attitudes as predictors of the multiple dimensions of mental health stigma [2018]

Mental health (MH) stigma is multidimensional and remains common in the United States and throughout the world. While sociopolitical attitudes such as right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) have emerged as strong predictors of some aspects of MH stigma, no study has assessed the relationship between RWA and multidimensional components of MH stigma, or linked this relationship to a theory of stigma.

The association between RWA and multiple stigma outcomes, including stereotypes, attributions/negative affect, social distance, microaggressions and help-seeking self-stigma was assessed controlling for covariates, including education, age, social desirability, race/ethnicity, gender, geographic location and prior contact with mental illness.

A total of 518 US residents (from all geographic regions; convenience sample) completed an online survey.

Findings indicated that RWA was significantly associated with all MH stigma dimensions analyzed, even after controlling for covariates. A hypothesized mediator for this relationship, dangerous world beliefs, was not supported as a theoretical explanation.

Right-wing authoritarianism predicts various dimensions of mental health stigma, but more research is needed to determine the theoretical underpinnings. These current findings may guide research in this area and be used to target a variety of conservative audiences for stigma reduction.

Joseph S DeLuca, John Vaccaro, Jenna Seda, Philip T Yanos
International Journal of Social Psychiatry, July 27, 2018