The Impact of Linguistic Form of Labels on Desire for Social Distance in Mental Health


The American Psychological Association, among other influential bodies, make recommendations on language for describing people with mental health conditions. The present studies test the impact of the recommended language on stigma. In Study 1, participants (n = 294) were asked to complete measures of desire for social distance from individuals given a diagnostic label in either person-first possessive, identity-first noun, or identity-first adjective forms. Familiarity with the diagnoses was considered as a potential influence on the outcome. The 3*2 (linguistic form * experience) factorial design was repeated for three diagnoses - schizophrenia, anorexia and alcoholism. In Study 2, the research was replicated with a sample recruited from the UK population via social media (n = 230). Factorial ANOVA was used for analysis. In contrast with previous literature, the studies found neither an effect of linguistic form (hypothesis 1) nor an interaction effect with familiarity (hypothesis 2). Research on this topic is in an early stage and, above all, it remains important to use language, which shows respect when talking to or about others.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School > Work & Organisational Psychology
Additional Information: Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Uncontrolled Keywords: Person first language,identity first language,mental health,essentialism,labelling,stigma
Publication ISSN: 1557-1882
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2024 07:15
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2022 13:30
Full Text Link:
Related URLs: https://link.sp ... 469-022-00967-y (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2022-12-02
Published Online Date: 2022-12-02
Accepted Date: 2022-10-29
Authors: Mallinson, Matt Geoffrey
Giannakopoulou, Anastasia
Clements, Andrew James (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-0265-0376)



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

| Preview

Export / Share Citation


Additional statistics for this record