Social distance towards a person with Alzheimer's disease

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Objectives: This study examined determinants of behavioral discrimination (i.e. social distance) against persons with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Face-to-face interviews were conducted with a total of 206 Jewish Israeli adults (mean age = 59.7) using an experimental vignette methodology, varying in the severity of the disease. Methods: Information regarding participants' preferences for social distance from a person with AD was elicited. The effects of emotional reactions, perceptions of dangerousness of the person depicted in the vignette, personal experience with the disease, and perceptions about the susceptibility of developing AD were examined. Results: Results of the study provide partial support for an extended version of the attribution model, in that prosocial feelings were found to decrease the behavioral discrimination against the person described, whereas feelings of rejection increased the discrimination. A direct, unmediated effect of the severity of the disease on social distance was found, as well as a direct effect of familiarity with someone with the disease. Conclusion: Findings of this study stress the importance of increasing government and advocacy initiatives that would provide the lay public with accurate knowledge about the disease, its symptoms, and treatments. These campaigns should be aimed at clarifying misconceptions and communicating empathetic feelings towards people diagnosed with AD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-188
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Attributions
  • Social distance
  • Stigmatization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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