Does the label of mental illness affect perceptions of art and artist?

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Richardson, Amy J.
Perkins, David V.
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Thesis (M.A.)
Department of Psychological Science
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This study examined the effect of diagnostic label (schizophrenia, depression, diabetes, or amateur) on perceptions of an artist as measured by social distance, perceptions of aggressiveness, artwork favorability, and monetary value (of artwork). Previous contact with a person hospitalized for mental illness was assessed to determine its moderating effects. Participants were 165 undergraduate students (118 female, 47 male). Results found a significant main effect for label on perceptions of aggressiveness, but not on social distance, artwork favorability, or monetary value. Although artwork was evaluated favorably regardless of label, the label of schizophrenia increased perceptions of aggressiveness, but showed suggestive effects on social distance and artwork favorability. The overall findings suggest a complex relationship between the label of mental illness, previous contact, and the relative sensitivity of perceptions of aggressiveness and social distance to these effects.