Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)




Cheryl L. Dickter

Committee Members

Joanna Schug

Victoria Castillo


College students experience the onset of psychological mental illnesses and disorders more than the general population (Myers et al., 2021). Stigma among other attitudinal components serve as a barrier for individuals who may other seek mental health services for their Common Mental Disorders (CMDs) (McNealy & Lombardero, 2020). Previous research has shown that Positive Imagined Contact can significantly improve attitudes towards out-group members, similarly to positive face to face interactions (Dickter & Burke, 2021). The current study intends to address gaps in literature concerning stigma and bias towards minority individuals who suffer from CMDs through a positive Imagined Contact Scenario. We studied the effects of participant race, imaginary individuals' race, and participants’ race on perceptions of individuals with CMDs. Black and White Participants at the College of William and Mary (n = 113) partook in a survey which addressed participants’ previous experiences with individuals who suffer from mental illness, feelings towards individuals with mental illness, and desire for intergroup contact. Results indicated no significant interaction found between the race of the participant, race of the imaginary imagined, and mental health status. However, participants who imagined a positive interaction with a person with a mental illness had more positive attitudes towards individuals with mental illness than those who imagined an interaction with someone without mental illness. This study suggests that a short Imagined Contact exercise may help increase positive attitudes towards individuals with mental illness, and could serve as a replacement for Regular Contact.

Keywords: mental health, stigma, bias, mental health literacy, multicultural differences, race, multiracial interactions

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Available for download on Wednesday, May 14, 2025

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