Semantic differential in the study on the stereotype of mentally ill people – comparative study 10 years later
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Kierownik: prof. dr hab. A. Oleszkowicz, Instytut Psychologii Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego
Barbara Mróz   

Kierownik: prof. dr hab. A. Oleszkowicz, Instytut Psychologii Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego, ul. J.Wł. Dawida 1, 50-327 Wrocław, Polska
Submission date: 2013-11-06
Final revision date: 2014-01-30
Acceptance date: 2014-02-10
Publication date: 2014-12-25
Psychiatr Pol 2014;48(6):1269–1281
This article examines how mentally ill people are perceived by psychology students. It was inspired by a study on stereotypical perception of mentally ill people carried out 10 years ago, which was published in Polish Psychiatry (2000).

A modified version of the semantic differential, which was used 10 years ago, was applied. The version consisted of: subject selection of 30 pairs of adjectives which describe mentally ill people, marking on a scale the extent a given object possesses a feature, describing what percentage of the mentally ill possess a feature as well as describing the level of certainty (%) of the respondent on the feature intensity.

Compared to a similar group of subjects studied ten years ago, the examined 152 students (F 138, M 14), on average aged 21.8, received results showing higher maturity and lesser weight of stereotypical thinking regarding the mentally ill. The subjects currently studied stated lower certainty (71%) than the previously studied group (79%), in most mentally ill people having problems in contact with others as well as with themselves. They perceive mentally ill people in a wider perspective (11 differential categories in 2000 compared to 19 differential categories in 2010.

The studies on stereotyping of the mentally ill show beneficial changes in awareness among psychology students. New psychology teaching programmes sensitizing to mental problems, the complexity of illness processes, likely impact of social advertising, and fostering social support for the mentally ill, contributed to the positive changes in results.