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Title: Attribution Versus Labeling Theory: Impact of Alzheimer’s Diagnosis on Emotions, Attributions, and Helping Intentions
Authors: Kim, Ga Hye
Advisors: Allen, Lesley
Contributors: Comer, Ronald
Department: Psychology
Class Year: 2014
Abstract: Labeling theory posits that applying disease labels formalizes behavior as a form of deviance, necessarily producing stigma. In contrast, attribution theory argues that depending on the nature of the disease label from which people infer disparate causal controllability, sympathetic responses may be evoked instead. This experimental study tested the validity of these two theories with regard to Alzheimer’s disease in an undergraduate population. With the unprecedented rise in average life expectancy, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is quickly becoming one of the most prevalent disorders worldwide. Recent reports also suggest that there may be stigma associated with AD. Both these factors speak to the importance of studying possible effects of stigma on individuals with AD. Accordingly, undergraduates (N=176) read vignettes describing an older parent displaying inappropriate behavior in a social situation, with diagnostic label (AD, no label) and congruence of behavior (congruent, incongruent, no information) manipulated across participants. Level of prior contact with persons with AD was also considered as an additional variable. Participants rated their emotional responses, attributions, and willingness to help. The main finding was that AD label brought about more sympathy, less blame, and greater willingness to help toward the parent, implying that the AD diagnosis may evoke compassionate attitudes and enhanced caregiving toward older adults. More nuanced results are further discussed, and implications of the study’s findings are considered as well as limitations to the study design.
Extent: 87 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Psychology, 1930-2017

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