Undergraduate Honors Thesis Projects

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Paper

Degree Name





Noam Shpancer, Ph.D

First Committee Member

Noam Shpancer, Ph.D

Second Committee Member

Meredith Meyer, Ph.D

Third Committee Member

Meredith Frey, Ph.D


stigma, depression, mental health, physiological data

Subject Categories

Counseling Psychology | Social Psychology



Figuring out how to reduce the negative stigma of mental illness could prove useful to patients and mental health professionals. Previous research has suggested that emphasizing the biological and physiological components of mental disorders may affect how people with these disorders are perceived. Biogenetic explanations have been shown to lessen stigma towards mentally ill patients in some respects. The present study compared participants’ evaluations of a hypothetical depressed person whose description was accompanied by either an MRI of the patient’s brain or a picture of the patient’s sad face. Analyses compared participants’ responses on three aspects of stigma: social distance, blame/responsibility, and perceived danger/unpredictability. Results revealed the following trends: 1) Participants who saw an MRI rated John as more trustworthy and predictable. 2) Participants who viewed an MRI also rated John as having more need for medication than the non MRI participants. Participants’ Level of Contact with mentally ill persons was not significantly related to any of the outcome variables measured.