Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Joel M. Martin


The current study sought to examine the relationship between personality traits and desire for social distance from an individual perceived as having a mental illness. Each participant received information about a confederate's (person pretending to be a participant) past mental illness diagnoses before interacting with them. This information was presented in the form of a demographic questionnaire completed by the confederate and, among other details, mentioned that the confederate had been previously diagnosed with schizophrenia. Participants' desire for social distance from the confederate was measured both by videotaped behavioral reactions and by attitudinal reactions reported on a social distance questionnaire adapted from a scale designed by Link, Cullen, Frank, and Wozniak (1987). Participants' personality characteristics were assessed via a self.- report inventory of the Big Five personality traits (Big Five Inventory; John, Donahue, & Kentle, 1991). Consistent with past research, it was predicted that higher Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Extraversion would be associated with 1) less physical distance placed between the participant and the confederate, 2) less time required for the participant to begin conversing with the confederate, 3) more eye contact between the participant and the confederate, and 4) lower social distancing attitudes reported on the social distance questionnaire.