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Stigma against individuals with psychological disorders poses serious risk to the mental health field. Perceived prejudice is often internalized by diagnosed individuals (self-stigma), which is in turn related to lower rates of treatment seeking. However, research investigating mental illness stigma has rarely included theory from implicit social cogntiion, a field which suggests many prejudiced attiudes exist outside conscious awareness. The current study comapres stigma between ADHD and depression, two of the most prevalent disorders diagnosed among young people because a consistent difference in their stigmatization has yet to be found. Based on evidence suggesting that people can hold both consciously controlled and more automatic attitudes toward a single social group, the current study included an Implicit Association Test (IAT) along with explicit measures, in an attempt to gain a fuller understanding of the stigma differences between ADHD and depression. The present study predicted that depression would be devalued to a greater extent than ADHD on the IAT, compared to explicit measures. This was expected to occur along three stigma-dimensions: attitude, etiology, and personal responsibility. Support was found for this hypothesis on two out of three IAT’s. Participants had stronger negative implicit attitudes about depressed individuals and implicitly blamed depressed individuals to a greater extent, compared to ADHD. These results provide strong evidence that depression is more unconsciously stigmatized compared to ADHD. Finding no evidence for stigma on explicit measures suggests that implicit methods are more sensitive than explicit measures in studying attitudes about mental illness, and perhaps about social groups, in general. Therefore, this study urges future researchers to utilize indirect measures and further investigate the role of implicit cognition in mental illness stigma.
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Gazarian, Douglas James, "Contrasting Stigma: Negative Implicit Attitudes and Attributions about Depression Relative to ADHD" (2013). Senior Projects Spring 2013. 403.