Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Tara Lineweaver


Stereotype threat has been researched in a variety of contexts such as African Americans' intellect, older adults' memory, and women's performance in math. Despite this extensive research, little has been done in the domain of mental illness. This study examines whether stereotype threat can be induced in people high in OCD symptoms. I hypothesized that, when given explicit information about their OCD tendencies, individuals high in OCD symptoms would perform less well on cognitive tests in a messy than a clean environment compared to those low in OCD symptoms. Group testing sessions included a mix of college students high (n=25) and low (n=22) in OCD symptoms. The classroom and testing packets were either messy or clean. At the beginning of the session, participants were given confidential, accurate information about their OCD symptomatology before completing tests of concentration and immediate and delayed memory. Results indicated that, although in a non-threat-inducing clean environment the High and Low OCD groups performed similarly, in a threat-inducing messy environment the High OCD group performed worse than the Low OCD group. Thus, my results suggest that individuals with OCD symptomatology may be susceptible to stereotype threat, much like other vulnerable populations.