Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


Psychological Science

Thesis Type

Honors College, College of Arts and Science Honors

First Advisor

Dr. Sue Fenstermacher

Second Advisor

Dr. Keith Burt


psychological disorders, public stigma, familiarity, attitudes, attitude change, social norms/influence


Individuals with psychological disorders must work to make a living just like everyone else. However, despite potential advantages of self-disclosure, the threat of public stigma may impact the decision to reveal their disability status to their co-workers, with many opting for concealment. Research suggests that this concern may be justified; stigma and discrimination based on mental health status have been noted to occur in the workplace, particularly when co-workers have less direct experience with mental health diagnoses. The purpose of the present literature review is to identify factors that may contribute to the likelihood of individuals with psychological disorders experiencing discrimination in the workplace based on their disclosure. Specifically, we explore the relative impacts of familiarity, attitudes, and social norms/influence on stigma against individuals with psychological disorders. Further, we propose a theoretical framework which suggests a cyclical relationship between familiarity, attitudes, and social norms/influence in creating, perpetuating, and reducing public stigma towards individuals with psychological disorders. This framework is applied to the workplace environment to identify the pathways through which stigma may be perpetuated as well as reduced. Additionally, we outline the methodology for a preliminary study which may be conducted in the future to test the factors posited by the present theoretical framework and assess their influence in the workplace environment. Finally, we suggest strategies for the reduction of mental health stigma in the workplace.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.