Don’t call me delusional: Stigmatizing effects of noun labels on people with mental disorders.

The stigma that burdens individuals with mental disorders often prevents them from seeking the treatment they need to improve their lives. The present study was designed to examine the stigmatizing effects of noun labels. A sample of 450 participants read 5 scenarios describing hypothetical characters and subsequently rated each character on 10 traits. Participants were randomly assigned to one of 3 conditions: (i) a condition in which characters were identified with a noun label (e.g., Jessica is delusional), (ii) a condition in which characters were identified with the possessive form of the label (e.g., Jessica has delusional disorder), or (iii) a condition in which no label was applied (e.g., Jessica). Results showed that characters identified with any label (noun or possessive) were rated worse than those given no label. Moreover, characters identified with a noun label were rated significantly worse on many of the traits relative to those identified with a possessive label. These latter results indicate that one way to reduce stigmatizing attitudes and perceptions is to avoid the use of noun labels when referring to individuals with mental disorders. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)