Attribution theory and support for individuals with depression: The impact of controllability, stability, and interpersonal relationship.

Individuals with depression encounter stigmatization from others. Accordingly, there have been numerous calls for theory-based approaches to reduce stigma. Attribution theory is a useful framework for antistigma efforts because it provides insight into emotional and behavioral responses toward those in need of assistance. In service of improving antistigma efforts, the purpose of the current studies was to investigate the effects of perceived controllability and perceived stability of depression on responses to individuals with the illness. Moreover, as the impact of depression–particularly perceived stability–is likely to have greater implications for a loved one than an acquaintance, the current studies tested the moderating effect of interpersonal relationship on the attribution-emotion-helping sequence. Moderated mediation analyses were conducted to test whether the indirect effect of attributions (i.e., perceived controllability and perceived stability) on behavioral intentions (i.e., willingness to provide social support [WPSS]; desire for social distance [DSD]) through affect (i.e., sympathy, anger) was moderated by interpersonal relationship (i.e., close other, acquaintance). Findings revealed that regardless of interpersonal relationship, perceiving depression as controllable elicited more anger and less sympathy, which in turn reduced WPSS and increased DSD. Further, results indicated that among close others, perceived stability led to less sympathy, more anger, and consequently, less WPSS and greater DSD. For acquaintances, however, perceived stability was not associated with differences in emotional responses. These results indicate that relational aspects of help provision are important to consider and that perceived stability may have untoward effects among loved ones of individuals with depression. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)