Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Cay Anderson-Hanley




Stigma, mental illness, Neuroscience/Biological Education, Social Distance Scale, Mental Health


Stigmatization of mental illness is undoubtedly detrimental to those with mental health concerns as it limits employment, self-esteem and social support (Markowitz, 1998). In effort to combat the issue of stigma, previous research has evaluated the effectiveness of education as a method to reduce stigma in a college sample; finding that peer-led presentations are effective in reducing stigma (Kosyluk et al., 2016). The current study sought to evaluate the effectiveness of neuroscience-oriented presentation for reducing the stigma of mental illness among college students. Researchers asked 53 Union College students to complete seven-item Social Distance Scale (SDS; Penn et al., 1994) before and after a peer-led, 30-minute neuroscience-oriented presentation. Results indicated a significant difference between the means of the pre-intervention (M = 13.70) and post-intervention (M = 11.40) scores such that SDS scores used to indicate stigma level decreased from pre to post intervention (p < .001). The was a moderate effect size for the sample (d = .70). As the current research lacked a control group, the results were compared to another study which administered the SDS to a control group and evaluated stability of scores over a two-week period and there was very little change (d = .04; Broussard et al., 2011). This comparison suggests that the brief intervention was able to change stigma over and above any change due to mere exposure effect and/or practice effects of serial testing. Additional research and additional stigma measures are required to understand how neuroscience-oriented education may be useful in a sample in the broader community and how enduring the effects are.