Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science / Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement
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Public stigma discourages people with depression from seeking help. Attribution theory predicts that psychological causal explanations for depression increase public stigma by emphasising personal responsibility for the condition. Schema theory may, however, present a less stigmatizing psychological etiology by emphasising childhood experiences. Undergraduate participants (N = 276) were randomly presented with vignettes positing biomedical, contextual, cognitive distortion, or cognitive schema explanations for depression. Contextual, cognitive distortion, and cognitive schema explanations for depression were associated with less public stigma relative to the control condition. Future antistigma programs may incorporate cognitive and contextual models of depression to reduce public stigma.