Date of Award


Degree Type




First Advisor

France, Christopher

Subject Headings

Depression, Mental -- Etiology, Avoidance (Psychology), Social distance, Depression


The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between causal explanations for depression and the social distance individuals would desire from a depressed person in order to clarify whether changes to existing public awareness campaigns concerning depression might be warranted. The sample used consisted of 223 students attending a university in a large mid-western city. Each participant received a vignette that described an individual suffering from depressive symptoms and also included information regarding whether these symptoms were caused by psychosocial or biological factors. The subjects then completed a survey incorporating questions from the modified version of the Bogardus Social Distance Scale (1987) concerning the individual portrayed in the vignette. This survey altered the original scale in order to include questions regarding friends and family members. A MANOVA was conducted in order to simultaneously analyze the results however, this did not show a significant relationship between the belief in the cause of depression and social distance desired. Further exploratory t-tests did suggest causal beliefs may affect social distance desired from friends, with a greater amount of social distance desired when individuals believe the depression to be caused by non-biological factors. It was also observed that laypersons reported a desire for more social distance overall from strangers, with less social distance desired from friends and family members. The findings suggest current or future public awareness campaigns concerning depression might benefit from considerations of both the causal depictions utilized in the campaign as well as the relationships laypersons might have with different depressed persons

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Psychology Commons