Reactions to AIDS patients as a function of attributions about controllability and promiscuity

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Rita Pullium
Cite this article:  Pullium, R. (1993). Reactions to AIDS patients as a function of attributions about controllability and promiscuity. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 21(4), 297-302.


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Controllability and promiscuity were varied in ten case stories about a fictitious AIDS patient. Tim got AIDS through an uncontrollable source (dentist, blood transfusion) or a controllable source (heterosexual contact, homosexual contact, drug needle) and had a single sex partner or multiple sex partners. College students read Tim’s case and answered questions regarding background, nonjudgmental sympathy, willingness to help, liking, and empathy. Controllability over the source of AIDS strongly influenced all reactions. Promiscuity affected only non-judgmental sympathy and empathy, not liking and helping. The victim’s sexual orientation affected little except for non- judgmental sympathy. Knowing real AIDS patients, even indirectly, greatly improved all reactions except for nonjudgmental sympathy.

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