Discrimination against the mentally ill- A social cognitive perspective

Misguided Madness

Imagine you board a crowded bus to get to college. There are no empty seats so you end up standing along with some other passengers. You can hear a man behind you muttering incoherently through out the ride. Other passengers around you also notice him talking to himself. They distance themselves from the man. Finally, when a seat empties and he tries to sit down, a frightened looking woman places her handbag on the seat and the man went back to standing on the bus. The woman sighs in relief.

Why was this man talking to himself? What made people back away from him or refuse to let him sit down?

One way of answering these questions is through the social cognitive model of stigma. To put it simply, the model states that signals in our social environment activate stereotypes that we have which then result in our discriminatory behaviour.

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