Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis




Mollie Ruben

Committee Members

Jordan LaBouff, Shannon McCoy, Rebecca Schwartz-Mette, Jennie Woodard

Graduation Year

May 2021

Publication Date

Spring 5-2021


Society tends to view those with mental illness as dangerous, impulsive, and unstable. These perceptions are often made quickly, with very little information available, and have lasting impacts (e.g., impacting job opportunities). The purpose of the current research is to examine stigma associated with various mental health disorders as compared to a physical health disorder or no disorder on perceptions of hireability of a candidate for a job. Undergraduate participants (N = 329) rated deidentified medical forms as part of a job application that varied in terms of diagnosis (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia), past hospitalization (yes vs. no), medication use (yes. vs. no), and gender (male, female, gender nonconforming) on hireability. It was hypothesized that stigma, as judged by lower ratings of hireability, would vary as a consequence of a mental health disorder. Additionally, it was hypothesized that past hospitalizations and medication use as a result of mental illness would affect hireability ratings. Finally, we examined how the perceiver’s own experiences with mental health impacted their hireability ratings. Results showed that hireability ratings varied by mental health diagnosis such that those without a mental health diagnosis or with a physical health diagnosis were significantly more likely to be hired compared to those with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, in that order. Perceiver mental health experience impacted ratings of hireability such that those with mental health experience themselves were more likely to hire others in general, while those with no mental health experience were less likely to hire applicants. Implications of this work include informing interventions that reduce barriers in seeking mental healthcare, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, when mental health symptoms are heightened