Psychology ETDs

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Anglo and Chicano conceptions of mental illness were studied through a cross-cultural comparison of performance on the Information and Comprehension subtests of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale either under standard instructions or under instructions to role-play mental illness. Thirty-two Anglo (22 female and 10 male) and thirty-two Chicano (18 female and 14 male) students from introductory psychology classes participated in the study. It was predicted that both Anglo and Chicano subjects would have decreased performance on both subtests under role­playing instructions. This prediction was based on the concept of mental illness which suggests that the mentally ill are seen as deviant in terms of attributes valued by a group. Since both intelligence and social convention are valued among Anglos and Chicanos, members of both groups should see the mentally ill as lacking in these attributes. Lack of intelligence should be reflected in role-playing Information scores since the Information subtest is a measure of general storage of factual information. Lack of social competence should be reflected in role-playing Comprehension scores since this subtest is a measure of willingness to conform to social convention. It was further hypothesized that this decrease in performance would be greater for Anglo subjects on Information and for Chicano subjects on Comprehension. This prediction was based on the relative importance of intellectual and social competence with in the two cultures. The order of administration of subtests and instructions was varied in order to control for carry-over effects. It was found that there was a statistically significant (p < .001) decrease in performance for both Anglos and Chicanos on both subtests but that the differential decrease predicted was not supported. Additionally, it was found that both subtest and instructional order interacted in a variety of ways which suggested that order had a differential effect on Anglos and Chicanos. An especially interesting finding was that the difference between Anglo subjects' standard and role-playing performance on both subtests was statistically significantly (p < .03) influenced by the order in which subtests were administered, whereas this was not the case for Chicano subjects. This was explained in terms of the relative stability of social stereotypes within the two cultures.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Samuel Roll

Second Committee Member

Richard Jerome Harris

Third Committee Member

Sidney Rosenblum



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Psychology Commons