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(De)Stigmatisierung durch massenmediale Information


Jun.-Prof. Dr. Matthias R. Hastall (Ansprechpartner)

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ute Ritterfeld



Alexander Röhm, M.A.



In diesem Projekt wird durch verschiedene Studien untersucht, inwieweit die spezifische Darstellung von Personen in Nachrichtentexten die stigmatisierenden Einstellungen der Leserinnen und Leser beeinflusst. In einer Nachrichtenmeldung über die Borlderline-Persönlichkeitsstörung (Studie 1) bzw. Adipositas (Studie 2) wurde u. a. das Geschlecht der Person, die Stärke der dargestellten negativen sozialen Konsequenzen (gering versus hoch) und die suggerierte Ursache der Erkrankung (interne versus externe Ursachen) variiert. Erhoben wurde, ob bzw. wie die unterschiedlich gestalteten Nachrichtenmeldungen stigmatisierende Einstellungen gegenüber erkrankten Personen reduzieren.



Hastall, M. R., Röhm, A. & Ritterfeld, U. (2014, November). Stigmatisierung, Destigmatisierung, Gesundheit und Gesundheitskommunikation: Annahmen, Kontroversen und aktuelle Befunde. Eingeladener Vortrag zum 1. GENIA-Symposium "Gesundheitsforschung - Erfurter Netzwerk für interdisziplinären Austausch“, Erfurt.


Hastall, M. R., Gammel, U., Reppenhorst, S., Epp, A. E., Dirksmeyer, J. & Ritterfeld, U. (2014, November: angenommener Vortrag): How news features influence readers' attitudes toward individuals with a borderline personality disorder: Findings from a randomised controlled study. Vortrag auf der 50. Jahrestagung der World Association of Social Psychiatry (WASP), London (UK).


Aim. The current study investigates the impact of four news report characteristics on readers’ attitudes towards individuals with a borderline personality disorder (BPD).
Background. Individuals with a BPD encounter high levels of stigmatisation in private and clinical settings throughout their lives (Aviram et al., 2006). In order to reduce public stigmatisation, more knowledge is needed about message factors that increase or decrease negative attitudes toward individuals with mental illness.
Method. A news report was manipulated with regard to (1.) the social proximity of the depicted individual (in-group member vs. out-group member), (2.) the suggested main cause of the disease (internal versus external), (3.) the severity of depicted social consequences for the individual (low vs. high), and (4.) the gender-congruence between the reader and the depicted individual with BPD (congruent versus incongruent). 1,227 university students completed an online questionnaire in which participants were first asked to read a randomly assigned version of the manipulated article, and subsequently filled out a German version of the Community Attitudes toward the Mentally Ill (CAMI) inventory (Angermeyer et al., 2003).
Results. The analyses revealed several significant interactions between the four tested message manipulations and respondents’ gender on all four CAMI subdimensions (benevolence, exclusion, integration, and social control). These interactive effects will be discussed regarding their implications for effective stigma reduction communication strategies.
Conclusion. Relatively minor alterations in news reports about persons with a BPD can have profound effects on readers’ attitudes towards these individuals. Further research is needed to understand their potential for destigmatisation campaigns.


Ritterfeld, U., Röhm, A., Hastall, M. R. (2014, November: angenommener Vortrag). Accuracy of mental illness media portrayals and (de)stigmatisation: Untangling a complex relationship. Vortrag auf der 50. Jahrestagung der World Association of Social Psychiatry (WASP), London (UK).


Entertaining portrayals of mental illness are often criticised for being inaccurate and thus likely to contribute to stigmatisation. From an advocacy perspective, requests for accuracy in media portrayals seem well justified. However, some studies observed significant confusion and irritation among audience members after watching realistic portrayals of protagonists with a mental illness (e.g., Ritterfeld & Jin, 2006). This puzzlement may in fact contribute to even more stigmatisation of affected individuals. At the same time, recent content analyses indicate that relatively accurate media portrayals of individuals with mental illness do exist for several diseases, but are overall negatively associated with movie success. In addition, results from an experimental reception study reveal a rather complex relationship between elements of entertainment and accuracy. Authors apply a threshold model to explain reversal effects on empathy with depictions of mental illness in rather accurate portrayals. Perceived reality (as a subjective indicator of accuracy) plays an important role and can best be described as cognitive inference from emotional states during media usage (Ahn, Jin, & Ritterfeld, 2012). The complex relationship between accuracy and (de)stigmatising effects will be discussed in the realm of these empirical findings.

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