Comparing gendered and generic representations of mental illness in Canadian newspapers: an exploration of the chivalry hypothesis.

TitleComparing gendered and generic representations of mental illness in Canadian newspapers: an exploration of the chivalry hypothesis.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsWhitley R, Adeponle A, Miller ARose
JournalSoc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol
Volume50
Issue2
Pagination325-33
Date Published2015 Feb
ISSN1433-9285
KeywordsCanada, Female, Humans, Journalism, Medical, Male, Mental Disorders, Newspapers as Topic, Sex Factors, Stereotyping, Violence
Abstract

PURPOSE: The 'chivalry hypothesis' posits that woman are treated more compassionately by the media when compared with men. To our knowledge, no research study has explored the chivalry hypothesis as applied to people with mental illness. As such, we set out to compare three types of newspaper articles, those that focus on (1) mental illness generically; (2) a woman with mental illness; and (3) a man with mental illness.METHODS: We conducted a content analysis of 1,168 newspaper articles relating to mental health over 6 months. We obtained articles through media retrieval software using various search terms. We read and coded articles for the presence or absence of themes and content. Frequency counts and proportions were generated for each theme, which were compared across the three types of articles using Chi-square tests.RESULTS: Generic articles were more positive than articles about individuals. They were significantly more likely to quote mental health experts, and have recovery, inadequate resources, and etiology as themes. Articles that depicted men were significantly more likely to have stigmatizing content and violence as themes. Articles depicting women were significantly more likely to quote mental health experts, discuss mental health interventions, and have recovery and inadequate resources as themes.CONCLUSION: The findings lend some support to the chivalry hypothesis, in as much as articles about women were significantly more positive. Articles about men were significantly more negative, though this may be partially accounted for by elevated rates of violent crime in men. Generic articles were the most extensively well informed.

DOI10.1007/s00127-014-0902-4
Alternate JournalSoc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol
PubMed ID24923412

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