Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Psychology Dept.


Allecia Reid


The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI; 2012) reports that the greatest barrier preventing college students from seeking help for a mental illness is stigma. Previous research has yet to develop an effective stigma reduction intervention targeting college students.Therefore, the purpose of the following research was to examine whether the administration of personalized normative feedback (PNF) could reduce personal stigma and correct the perception that others stigmatize mental illness. It was hypothesized that participants at baseline would expect others to hold more stigmatizing views compared to themselves. In order to correct this misperception and reduce stigma, half of the participants received PNF comparing their perspective of mental health with the actual norms from local and national data. It was expected that participants who received PNF would significantly reduce their personal and perceived public stigma compared to the control condition. Additionally, it was predicted that individuals in the PNF condition would be more likely to support allocating funds to mental health initiatives on campus. Study 1 confirmed that individuals incorrectly believe that others hold more negative stigmatizing views toward mental health compared to themselves. Study 2 demonstrated that the administration of PNF led to a reduction in perceived public stigma, but there was no observed decrease in personal stigma. Also, participants who received PNF did not differ from the control condition in how much funding they supported allocating to mental health initiatives. Therefore, future research must employ innovative techniques to reduce personal stigma of mental health in the college population.


PNF, mental health, stigma, injunctive norms, descriptive norms