Objective: Aim of the study is to examine the impact of labelling on public attitudes towards people with schizophrenia and major depression. Method: In Spring 2001, a representative survey was carried out in Germany involving adults of German nationality (n 5025). Results: Labelling as mental illness has an impact on public attitudes towards people with schizophrenia, with negative effects clearly outweighing positive effects. Endorsing the stereotype of dangerousness has a strong negative effect on the way people react emotionally to someone with schizophrenia and increases the preference for social distance. By contrast, perceiving someone with schizophrenia as being in need for help evokes mixed feelings and affects people’s desire for social distance both positively and negatively. Labelling has practically no effect on public attitudes towards people with major depression. Conclusion: Our findings illustrate the need for differentiation, differentiation between the different components of stigma as well as differentiation between the various mental disorders
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