Previous studies have documented that exposure to stereotypical information about certain social groups leads to unfavorable perceptions and feelings toward that group. Integrating insights from the mental illness stigma and the social identity perspective literatures, the purpose of this paper is to explore the effects of eating disorder public service announcements (ED PSAs) that employ stigma formats through the lenses of the stereotype content model (SCM) and the Behaviors from Intergroup Affect and Stereotypes (BIAS) Map.
The study followed an experimental control group design. Participants were exposed to either a stigmatizing or a non-stigmatizing PSA.
Exposure to the stigmatizing PSA resulted in lower perceptions of warmth and competence being attributed to people who have an ED which further predicted greater feelings of contempt toward these individuals. The stigmatizing PSA also directly predicted greater feelings of contempt.
The findings suggest that using stereotypes about EDs in PSAs aimed at preventing such diseases may elicit perceptions of low warmth and competence, further associated with increased feelings of contempt toward people who have an ED in healthy individuals.
The stereotyping effects of PSAs may reduce the social and emotional support that people with EDs receive and may exacerbate their emotional distress.
From a theoretical point of view, these results extend the understanding of mental illness stereotypes from an intergroup, SCM and BIAS Map perspective as it applies to EDs. More importantly, this study draws attention to possible unintended consequences of PSAs, a matter that is rarely researched, but that can have severe implications.
Iles, I.A., Seate, A.A. and Waks, L. (2016), "Eating disorder public service announcements: Analyzing effects from an intergroup affect and stereotype perspective", Health Education, Vol. 116 No. 5, pp. 476-488. https://doi.org/10.1108/HE-07-2015-0019Download as .RIS
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