Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

William Addison


This study was designed to help identify the factors that predict people's stigmatized attitudes toward individuals with mental illness. Corrigan (2002) suggested that stigmatized beliefs about individuals with mental illness may be detrimental to the potential recovery of these individuals, their self-esteem, empowerment, and their integration into society. One factor that has been found to reduce this stigma is personal contact with mentally ill individuals (Corrigan et al., 2002). Additionally, research has shown that empathy and principled moral reasoning are negatively correlated with prejudice, or stigma (McFarland, 2010). The current study examined level of contact, employment in a mental health profession, and four measures of empathy (macro perspective-taking, cognitive empathy, self-other awareness, and affective response) as potential predictors of stigmatized attitudes. A total of 159 participants, obtained through convenience sampling, completed an online survey that included demographic items (e.g., age, gender, and status as a mental health professional), the Day Mental Illness Scale (Day, Edgren, & Eshleman, 2007), the Hackler Level-of-Contact Items (Hackler, 2011), and the Segal Interpersonal and Social Empathy Index (Segal, Cimino, Gerdes, Harmon, & Wagaman, 2013). The results indicate that gender is significantly related to stigma toward mentally ill individuals; women tend to have less stigma toward individuals with mental illness. Macro perspective-taking and affective response are also significantly related to stigma toward mentally ill individuals; the more of these empathy levels that one has, the less stigma they have toward individuals with mentally ill individuals. Limitations of the study and directions for future research are discussed.