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Am J Community Psychol. 1989 Aug;17(4):521-8.

Impact of a television film on attitudes toward mental illness.


The possible impact of a prime time television film portraying a mentally ill killer was investigated. Groups of college students were shown the film with and without a film trailer reminding viewers that violence is not characteristic of mentally ill persons. A third group viewed a film not about mental illness. Postfilm responses to the Community Attitudes toward the Mentally Ill scale indicated that those who saw the target film expressed significantly less favorable attitudes toward mental illness and community care of mentally ill persons than did those who saw the control film, regardless of whether of not they received the trailer along with the target film. Results support concerns that media depictions add to mental illness stigma and also suggest that corrective information alone may be sufficient to counteract the stigmatizing impact of such audience-involving mass media portrayals.

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