Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Clinical Psychology

Department or School/College

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Duncan Campbell

Commitee Members

Carol Bruneau, Lucian Conway


public health, stigma, depression, psychology


University of Montana


The purposes of this study were to investigate the impact of a biologically-based anti-stigma message on affect and stigma and to explore whether individual differences variables were predictive of different reactions to the message. Additional goals were to explore the reactions of those with greater depression familiarity and various causal beliefs, and to examine the impact of personality and the message on the willingness to seek treatment. 182 undergraduates completed personality measures and stigma measures before viewing a message, and affect and stigma measures again afterward. Participants either saw the message “depression is a brain disease” or a control message. Stigma levels were compared from before and after and across conditions, and affect was compared across conditions. Changes were not observed in stigma measures as a result of the experimental manipulation. The experimental message was emotionally activating, leading to higher levels of both negative and positive affect relative to the control message, and participants reported having very negative opinions of it. Individual differences variables were unrelated to changes affect and stigma, with one exception. Individuals who were high in affiliation were less willing to seek treatment after viewing the experimental message. Personal experience of depression and prior causal beliefs about depression did not interact with the different messages to predict negative affective responses. Implications for campaigns to reduce mental health stigma and possible directions for future research are discussed.

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© Copyright 2011 Laura Ann Boucher