Religion: A mediator of Anglo-American and Mexican attributional differences toward symptoms of schizophrenia?

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This study examined the relationship of religiosity to attributions toward schizophrenia, within a cultural context. Previous research suggests that on self-report measures, Mexicans endorse holding greater moral-religious values than do their Anglo-American counterparts. Research also indicates that Mexicans, relative to Anglo-Americans, tend to hold fewer blameworthy attributions and are less likely to view patients with schizophrenia as responsible for the symptoms of the disorder. In an analog study of 88 Mexican and 88 Anglo-American college students asked to imagine that they have a brother with schizophrenia, this study assessed two competing hypotheses regarding the role of religion in shaping reactions to schizophrenia in a family member. For hypothesis 1, Baron and Kenny's mediational model (1986) was used to assess whether moral religious values may play a direct mediating role between ethnicity and controllability attributions for schizophrenia. In other words, based on observations of previous researchers, this set of analyses assessed whether ethnic differences in controllability attributions might be explained by a religious or spiritual tendency in Mexicans to view negative events, such as mental disability, as rooted in divine factors beyond the patient's personal control. In contrast, a second, competing, hypothesis was also assessed in this study: namely, that greater religiosity would be positively correlated with increasing perceptions of control over the symptoms of schizophrenia. This hypothesis stems from the premise of several investigators that religious individuals may be more likely to perceive another's adversity (such as having schizophrenia) as a punishment for prior wrongdoings or for failure to try to help oneself. Results indicate support for the latter hypothesis. Implications of the paradoxical finding, that Mexicans were both more religious and more external in their attributions, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)616-621
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 30 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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