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The Different Faces of Mental Illness Stigma: A new theoretical framework and test of intervention in public and healthcare professionals

   Institute for Lifecourse Development

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  Dr Anke Goerzig  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Mental illness stigma has been persistently linked to negative outcomes for both individual and society. While the existence and impact of mental illness stigma has been well established, most research has neglected to differentiate between different types of discrimination ranging from more subtle paternalising behaviours (unnecessary or unwanted helping), avoidance (social exclusion, distancing or ignoring), to overtly hostile behaviours (verbal or physical attacks) as well as the role of different types of mental illness (e.g., anxiety, depression, or schizophrenia).

Previous research assessed discriminatory behaviours as unidimensional with a focus on ‘avoidance’ and towards an overarching category of mental illness. However, stigma (including attributions, emotions, behaviour) has been shown to vary by type of mental illness. For example, perceptions of threat and responsibility, and associated emotions of fear, anger or pity as well as discriminatory behaviours tended to vary between alcohol dependence, dementia, depression, eating disorder and schizophrenia. The stereotype content model (SCM) proposes a framework that explains how different types of discriminatory behaviours are triggered via emotional responses that arise on the basis of a group’s stereotype. It has been successful in making predictions for different types of discriminatory behaviours beyond avoidance.


The present project will synthesise research paradigms on mental illness stigma with a well-established paradigm from Social Psychology (SCM). The project focuses on identifying the mechanisms underlying differential patterns of discriminatory behaviours towards individuals with different types of mental illness. Health professionals and service users from mental health and addiction services will be recruited for the validation of the proposed theoretical model, as well as the subsequent design and test of interventions.

If you would like to discuss this opportunity and the PhD project before applying, please contact Dr. Anke Görzig ([Email Address Removed]) or Dr. Michele Birtel ([Email Address Removed]).

Duration: 3 years Full-Time Study or 6 years Part-Time Study.

Type: Self-Funded.

How to Apply:

Please read this information before making an application. Information on the application process is available at:

Applications need to be made online via this link. No other form of application will be considered. Please submit your application under the PhD Human Sciences programme. All applications must include the following information. Applications not containing these documents will not be considered:

• A research proposal (about 1500 words) related to the subject topic *

• A CV including 2 referees * (one ideally being from a dissertation supervisor)

• Personal statement outlining the motivation for this PhD and this particular project

• Academic qualification certificates/transcripts and IELTs/English Language certificate if you are an international applicant or if English is not your first language or you are from a country where English is not the majority spoken language as defined by the UK Border Agency *

*upload to the qualification section of the application form. Attachments must be a PDF format.

Psychology (31)