Nanlan Zhang

Date of Award

Summer 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Journalism and Mass Communications

First Advisor

Robert McKeever


The publics might be misinformed about mental illness due to frequently mentioned violence and inaccurate notions in news coverage that underlie people who have a history of mental illness are prone to be dangerous or violent. Drawing from the theories of inoculation and the psychological reactance, the author seeks to investigate the effects of using preemptive corrective message techniques (labeling, appeal to consensus, and provision of an alternative explanation) as on the method of promoting resistance to misinformation linking mental illness and violence, which is a harmful and unsubstantiated stereotype. To accomplish this research aim, the author conducted two experiments to examine the efficacy of inoculation messages and how these messages function in combating stigma and false beliefs in misinformation on the condition of source credibility. The findings show that labeling was the most effective among three inoculation interventions to reduce stigmatizing attitude, perceived credibility of misinformation, negative word of mouth, and increase intentions to debunk stereotypes and misconceptions after controlling preexisting positions and mental health knowledge. The direct and indirect effects of inoculation interventions on the outcomes were illustrated in PROCESS and SEM models. Theoretical contributions and implications for practitioners and future research are discussed.