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Abstract

These studies continue the exploration of variables related to a person's use of the mental illness categorization. The central concern in the present studies was the effect of perceived variation in a target person's level of involvement in a social situation. While a low level of involvement, as portrayed in videotaped scenarios, prompts attribution of mental illness, other features of implicit personality theories also relate to greater or lesser attribution of mental illness. Those participants who gave evidence of having attributed lower levels of involvement, regardless of filmed information, also attributed higher levels of mental illness. Social workers, compared to general population participants, attributed higher levels of mental illness at all levels of target involvement. We discuss the implications of these findings for dissemination and assignment of the mentally ill role.