The effects of person-first language on attributions about people with substance use disorders

Date

2019-07-08

Authors

Montagnolo, Carolyn Elizabeth

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Abstract

Proponents of person-first language have called for using it as a stigma-reducing communication strategy when referring to individuals with substance use disorders. However, there has been lack of empirical evidence supporting its use. This research used an attributional model of stigma to investigate what effects person-first language may have on perceptions of people with substance use disorders. The first study suggests that, under certain circumstances, person-first language may influence levels of sympathy felt towards people with substance use disorders. However, it does not affect perceptions of controllability of or responsibility for having a substance use disorder, anger towards people with substance use disorders, or intention to help or punish people with substance use disorders. In the second study, participants did not use person-first language to describe a person with a substance use disorder. Participants who, instead, used identity- first language did not hold more stigmatizing views of people with substance use disorders than other participants. The findings suggest that person-first language may not be an effective strategy for reducing stigma towards people with substance use disorders.

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