The Depression Schema: How Labels, Features, and Causal Explanations Affect Lay Conceptions of Depression
Depression is a common clinical disorder characterized by a complex web of psychological, behavioral, and neurological causes and symptoms. Here we investigate everyday beliefs and attitudes about depression, as well as the factors that shape the depression schemas people hold. In each of three studies, participants read about a person experiencing several symptoms of depression and answered questions about their conception of the disorder. In some cases the symptoms were presented in isolation while in other cases the symptoms were presented with a diagnostic label and/or descriptions of its possible causes (e.g., genes versus personal experience). Results indicated that beliefs and attitudes toward depression were largely shaped by individual difference factors (e.g., personal experience, political ideology) and that the experimental manipulations primarily impacted attributions of responsibility and suggestions for a course of treatment. These findings represent an important advance in our understanding of the factors that influence the folk psychiatry of depression and help inform theories of schema formation for abstract and complex domains.
Thibodeau, P.H., M.J. Fein, E.S. Goodbody, and S.J. Flusberg. 2015. "The Depression Schema: How Labels, Features, and Causal Explanations Affect Lay Conceptions of Depression." Frontiers in Psychology 6: article 1728.
Frontiers Research Foundation
Frontiers in Psychology
Schemes, Depression, Framing, Folk psychiatry, Biological explanations, Gender-differences, Mental disorders, Mechanical Turk, Schizophrenia, Stigma, Perceptions, Attitudes