Who do we attribute mental health stigma to?

Misguided Madness

It’s quite common to find ourselves explaining why we do what we do or why someone else did something for that matter. You may have wondered why someone failed in class and came to the conclusion that she or he must not have studied. You could have thought that the reason your dance performance went well was because you put in a lot of hours rehearsing. The way in which people explain the causes of their own behaviour and that of others is described in what is known as attribution theory.

This theory is especially relevant in understanding mental health stigma. When it comes to making attributions about people with mental illness, an important factor to take into consideration is controllability. If the cause of someone’s behaviour is within their control then they are blamed or held responsible for that behaviour. This means we tend to ascribe blame and responsibility to…

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