Searching for a Silver Lining: Mediated Intergroup Contact and Mental Health Perceptions

Kathryn L. Lookadoo, Norman C. H. Wong


This study investigated viewer responses to characters from Silver Linings Playbook, a movie about characters dealing with mental illness, from the perspective of mediated intergroup contact hypothesis. Researchers tested if identification with fictional characters with mental illness reduced viewers’ negative stereotypes about mental illness and increased their willingness to support people with the same illnesses as the characters. Additionally, empathy was tested as a mediator between identification and stereotype reduction. One hundred forty-five participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 character conditions. The hypotheses associated with identification and stereotypes and intentions were partially supported. For two characters, empathy mediated the relationship between identification and negative stereotypes. Implications for mediated portrayals of health issues and behaviors are discussed.

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Studies in Media and Communication      ISSN 2325-8071 (Print)   ISSN 2325-808X (Online)

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