The Phenomenon of Cognitive Polyphasia in Social Representations on the Mentally

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The present study is focused on the phenomenon of cognitive polyphasia in the context of representations of mentally ill people by different groups of society. The authors put at the forefront the problem of finding the conditions for the actualization of cognitive polyphasia. The study was aimed at identifying manifestations of cognitive polyphasia in the structure of social representations (SRs) of the mentally ill in the groups of Orthodox respondents and non-believers. The sample consisted of Orthodox Christians: N = 114 (49 males and 65 females) and non-believers: N = 113 (76 males and 37 females) in the age ranges 18-23, 40-45 and 60-65 years, permanently residing in Moscow. The survey of the respondents at the main stage of the research was carried out using: (1) the authors’ questionnaire developed on the basis of the results of the search stage and including 29 statements; (2) a scale of self-assessed degree of religiosity; (3) a modified D. Feldes’ Psychological Distance Scale; (4) a modified sentence completion method; (5) the Bubbles technique and (6) a question pool for obtaining socio-demographic information. The results showed that the emotional component of SRs of the mentally ill changed their modality depending on the survey methods used. When the respondents evaluated the statements of the questionnaire, the core of SRs in both groups contained elements that were extremely sympathetic towards the mentally ill, and the statements revealing negative emotions (the possibility of contracting a mental illness or the need to isolate these people from society) were on the periphery of their representations. At the same time, the data of the projective methods showed that the negative representation background (as compared to the positive one) in relation to mentally ill people significantly predominated among both believers and non-believers. The negative representation of the mentally ill is most pronounced in the group of non-believers and reaches the highest rates in the group of 60-65-year-old respondents. We regard such ambivalence as a manifestation of cognitive polyphasia and, in particular, its variety, i.e., selective prevalence.

About the authors

Tatiana P. Emelyanova

Psychology Institute of Russian Academy of Education

Author for correspondence.
SPIN-code: 4338-1645

Doctor of Psychology, Professor, Leading Researcher, Laboratory of Social and Economic Psychology

13 Yaroslavskaya St, bldg 1, Moscow, 129366, Russian Federation

Tatiana V. Israelyan

Insurance Company “RESO-Garantia”


Psychologist, Center for Psychological Assistance

12 Gasheka St, bldg 1, Moscow, 125047, Russian Federation


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Copyright (c) 2021 Emelyanova T.P., Israelyan T.V.

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