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Measuring Stigma Toward Mental Illness: Development and Application of the Mental Illness Stigma Scale1


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    Day's Mental Illness Stigma Scale was developed independently by Emer Day as part of her doctoral dissertation at the University of Kansas. Day collected all of the data for Study 1. Kara Edgren completed Study 2 as part of her senior undergraduate honors thesis at Wagner College. Amy Eshleman served as Edgren's advisor for Study 2 and was supported during writing by the Maureen Robinson Fellowship of Wagner College. The authors thank Lawrence S. Wrightsman, Jr. (for serving as Day's dissertation committee chair) and the members of her committee: Glenn E. Adams, Monica R. Biernat, Christian S. Crandall, and Scott R. Harding. We also thank Jennifer L. Ivie, Todd D. Little, and Anca Miron for their assistance with analyses; and Laurence J. Nolan and Mark Wagner for serving as reviewers on Edgren's thesis. Finally, we thank two anonymous reviewers for providing valuable feedback that helped to substantially strengthen the paper. Portions of this paper were presented at the 58th annual meeting of the Eastern Colleges Science Conference, Riverdale, NY (April 2004); and at the 17th annual meeting of the American Psychological Society, Los Angeles, CA (May 2005).

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Amy Eshleman, Psychology Department, Wagner College, 1 Campus Road, Staten Island, NY 10301. E-mail:


Guided by theory on stigma, a Likert-type scale was developed to measure 7 factors of attitudes toward people with mental illness: interpersonal anxiety, relationship disruption, poor hygiene, visibility, treatability, professional efficacy, and recovery. The scale was validated among college students and community members, measuring attitudes toward people with mental illness, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. In a second application, college students completed the scale from their own perspective, then from an imagined perspective of someone with mental illness, while psychiatric patients completed the scale from their own perspective, then from an imagined viewpoint of someone without mental illness. Psychiatric patients assumed that they were stigmatized to a greater extent than was admitted by the student sample.