Date of Degree
Philip T. Yanos
Clinical Psychology | Cognitive Psychology | Social Psychology
stigma, pragmatic inference, stereotypes
In high-profile violent incidents, there appears to be a disproportionate focus on the perpetrator’s mental health status in relation to the incident (Angermeyer & Matschinger, 1996). Several studies have highlighted the biased nature of the media in reporting news on mental illness and its negative impact on general consensus (Corrigan et al., 2013; Wahl, 1992, 2003). Researchers have also suggested that the media is a significant source of knowledge for the public (Jorm, 2000; Wahl, 2003). Based on a social cognitive perspective, pragmatic inference and stereotype priming provide a framework to understand the reader’s comprehension. The current studies aimed to examine the underlying processes in reading comprehension, the impact of stereotypical beliefs regarding mental illness, and the potential impact of mood. Results from both studies generally supported the main effect of mental illness prime, and evidence of pragmatic inference underlying the layperson’s processing of news in the media. That is, lay people appear to remember gist of information, rather than accurate details, and this memory was also impacted by stereotypes that were activated by a priming stimulus. Additionally, results yielded large effect sizes across the main dependent memory measures. However, self-report attitudinal measures and information-processing styles were not significantly related to memory measures. Overall, the results suggest the significance of mentioning mental illness by the media and its repercussions in terms of propagating exaggerated stereotypes of mental illness among laypersons consuming the news. Other theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Chan, Ginny, "Social Cognitive Processes in the Priming of Mental Illness Stereotypes by the Media" (2016). CUNY Academic Works.