Beliefs and emotions have different roles in generating attitudes toward providing personal help and state-sponsored help for people with a mental illness

Obonsawin, Marc C. and Lindsay, Amanda and Hunter, Simon C. (2013) Beliefs and emotions have different roles in generating attitudes toward providing personal help and state-sponsored help for people with a mental illness. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 54 (5). pp. 581-588. ISSN 0010-440X

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to examine the role of emotions like pity and anger in mediating the relationship between beliefs about the controllability of a mental illness, and the willingness to help someone with a mental illness. In particular, we tested the hypothesis that the effects of beliefs about controllability on the willingness to provide personal help is mediated by the emotions of pity and anger, but that the effects of beliefs about controllability on the willingness to condone state-organised help was more direct, and not mediated by emotions. A between-groups design was employed to investigate the effects of manipulating controllability attributions via 3 hypothetical vignettes. ANOVA analysis of responses to a revised version of the AQ-27 from 371 participants demonstrated that beliefs about controllability lead to significantly higher personal responsibility beliefs, negative affective reactions and decreased helping intentions in comparison to when the cause of mental illness was believed to be uncontrollable. A mediation analysis demonstrated that pity and anger fully mediate the relationship between beliefs about controllability and the willingness to offer personal help, and also demonstrated that pity and anger partially mediate the relationship between beliefs about controllability and the willingness to condone help provided by the state. The partial mediation may indicate that the effects of beliefs about controllability on state-sponsored may be mediated by pity in some people, but that in other people, beliefs have a more proximal effect on behavior.