The influence of stigma of mental illnesses on decoding and encodting of verbal and nonverbal messages
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Stigmas associated with depression and schizophrenia have been found to negatively impact the communication those with mental illness have with others in face-to-face interactions (e.g., Lysaker, Roe, & Yanos, 2007; Nicholson & Sacco, 1999). This study attempted to specifically examine how stigma affects cognitions, emotions, and behaviors of interactants without a mental illness toward those with a mental illness in online interactions. In this experimental study, 412 participants interacted with a hypothetical target on Facebook, who was believed to have depression, schizophrenia, or a cavity (i.e., the control group). They were asked to read a profile of the target on Facebook, respond to a message from the target, and complete measurements assessing perceived positive and negative face threats in the target's message, perceived facial expressions of the target, induced affect, predicted outcome value, and rejecting attitudes towards the target. Results revealed that the target labeled as schizophrenic was rejected more and perceived to have lower outcome value than the target without a mental illness or labeled as depressive. However, there were no significant differences in any outcomes between the depression and control groups. The mixed results were discussed in relation to methodological limitations and possible modifications of previous theoretical arguments. Theoretical and practical contributions were considered and suggestions for future research were offered.