The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between mental illness and stigmatization. For most of the twentieth century, popular attitudes towards the mentally ill were overtly negative and stigmatizing. In the 1970s-1980s, however, a putative shift in perceptions--thought to be the result of increased public knowledge about psychological disorders--purportedly diminished the stigma attached to mental illness. Using race, gender, and age as moderating variables, this study draws upon data from the recent 2006 General Social Survey to reexamine more current attitudes by the public towards those with mental illness and how it affects the desire for social distance from those with mental illness. Hypotheses looked at in this study are: 1.The closer the relationship to a person with mental illness, the lesser the desire of social distance. 2. The younger the participant, the lesser desire for social distance. 3. Women will have a lesser desire for social distance than men. 4. Non-white participants will have a lesser desire for social distance than whites. Statistical analysis did not confirm the hypotheses set forth in the study.


Steven Vassar

Committee Member

Barbara Keating

Committee Member

Jasper Hunt

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology and Corrections


Social and Behavioral Sciences

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License