Journal of Community Psychology

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Self‐stigma and the mediating impact of the “why try” effect on depression


The “why try” effect, a consequence of self‐stigma, is a sense of behavioral futility that may worsen depression. This study examines the regressive model of self‐stigma, the factor structure of a why try measure, and the pathway through which self‐stigma leads to depression. Data from 291 people self‐identifying with mental illness were collected through an online survey. Participants completed the Why Try Stigma Scale (WTSS) and measures of self‐stigma and depression. Structural equation modeling was used to test the WTSS factor structure and path models. Reducing the WTSS from 12 to 6 items led to good fit. The regressive model of self‐stigma was validated. A good fit was demonstrated for a model in which harm leads to unworthiness, then incapability, and then depression. The regressive model worsens sense of worthiness, which in turn affects personal capability, resulting in increased depression.

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