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John "drinks"? Or John is "a drinker"? Implying a disordered identity affects perceived functioning

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Abstract (summary)

Using noun phrasing to refer to an individual's maladaptive behavioral pattern (e.g., "John is a drinker.") may lead to inferences of lower functioning or poorer adaptation compared with non-noun phrasing (e.g., "John drinks"). Building on research from developmental and social psychology, the current study examines the impact of noun labels in the mental disorder domain. The study will randomly assign 220 undergraduate participants to one of four conditions comprising a 2 (noun label vs non-noun label) x 2 ( alcohol vs gambling) experimental design. While participants read a paragraph about the target individual, "John", they will describe him by actively writing down the noun phrase "is a drinker" (or "is a gambler") or the non-noun phrase, "drinks" (or "gambles"), by filling in several blank spaces within the paragraph. They will then make ratings of John's personal functioning (e.g, the extent to which he feels happy, is successful at school, feels a sense of purpose in life). The prediction is that conceiving John as a being a "drinker" or "a gambler" will lead to lower ratings of personal functioning compared to the non-noun conditions. Findings could broaden our understanding of the effects of language which implies identity in the domain of mental disorders.

Publication Information



Presented on April 24, 2017 at Student Research Day held at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta.

Item Type

Student Presentation




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