Perceived mental illness and diminished responsibility: A study of attributions

S. W. Sadava1, Lynne Angus1, Robert Forsyth1
1Brock University, Canada
Cite this article:  Sadava, S. W., Angus, L., & Forsyth, R. (1980). Perceived mental illness and diminished responsibility: A study of attributions. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 8(2), 129-136.

Volume 8 Issue 2 | e291 | Published: August 1980 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.1980.8.2.129

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Subjects read case reports of an accident, in which the severity of consequences was varied, and where the protagonist was described as "normal" or as exhibiting "symptoms" of alcohol abuse, paranoid delusions, acute anxiety. Although greater mental illness was perceived in the alcoholism and paranoid cases, greater responsibility was also attributed to the alcoholic, and more severe penalties were recommended in both cases. Greater responsibility was attributed when the consequences were severe in the normal case only. The implications were discussed for the concept of self-protective attributions and for the notion of mental illness as denoting diminished capacity for responsibility.
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