UBC Undergraduate Research

Beliefs About Mental Illness: The Influence of Gender-Roles on What We Take From Television Kivari, Carson


There were two main purposes to this study. The first was to investigate if the variance associated with attitudes and beliefs regarding mental illness can be explained better by participant sex or gender-role endorsement (GRE). University students (n = 258) filled out questionnaires assessing both mental health-related attitudes and GRE. Multiple regression analyses indicated that the variance explained by sex was almost entirely accounted for by participant GRE. The second part of the study assessed how GRE may moderate the effects television exposure has on our mental illness attitudes. Using a mixed design (n = approximately 19/group), attitudes were measured approximately one week before, and immediately after watching one of four episodes of a therapy-based HBO drama. The results suggested that exposure to this series may increase positive attitudes regarding mental illness. Additionally, our findings indicated a non-significant trend that gender stereotypic portrayals in this series decrease negative attitudes regarding the hygiene of those with mental illness, while non-gender stereotypic portrayals increase negativity.

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