Cancer stereotypes: A multidimensional scaling analysis

James Rounds, Michael A. Zevon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The body of empirical research investigating the structure of stereotypes held by the physically healthy population toward individuals with medically related problems is remarkably small. This is particularly true for stereotypes related to cancer. This study adopted a multidimensional scaling (MDS) strategy in order to identify medically related stereotype dimensions for cancer and other illnesses. Sixty-eight subjects judged the similarity of cancer and eleven other medical conditions and rated each on 7-point attribute scales. A two-dimensional solution of respondents' similarity judgments was found and four distinct clusters of related conditions were perceived: (1) cancer and other illnesses with controllable risk factors, (2) conditions affecting motor function, (3) psychological/functional disorders and (4) communication/sensory functional disorders. Regression of mean attribute ratings onto the MDS disability coordinates labeled the two dimensions Normality and Physical Health. Implications of these dimensions for planning effective programs to change stereotypes and improve attitudes toward individuals with cancer and other medical conditions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-496
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1993


  • attitudes
  • cancer
  • multidimensional scaling
  • stereotypes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychology(all)


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