The Effects of Narratives and Disclosure Timings on Reducing Stigma and Implicit Bias Against People Suffering From Mental Illness

Sushma Kumble, Fuyuan Shen


Although scholars have examined how narratives encourage empathy for and favorable attitude toward the stigmatized, little is known about the efficacy of the timing of the disclosure in the narrative to reveal a stigmatized condition and facilitate destigmatization. To test these effects, we conducted a between-subjects online experiment (N = 290) comparing narratives (early- vs. late-disclosure timing) to informational messages in the context of mental illness. Additionally, the present study also examined if narratives aided in reducing implicit bias and whether disclosure timing also had an impact on reducing implicit bias. Results indicate that, narratives, regardless of the disclosure timing, aided in reducing perceived threats and increased social acceptances as compared with informational messages. However, the disclosure timing had an impact on explicit attitude levels. Additionally, narratives did not significantly reduce implicit bias. Implications and future directions are also discussed.


Narrative communication, stigma communication, mental illness, implicit bias

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