Erika Hanley


Perceptions can be influenced by the media concerning different groups of people. As a result of the importance of the media in how individuals obtain information and formulate opinions, how different groups are presented whether negatively or positively is important. This research examines the portrayal of mental illness in films and the impact that such portrayals have on the perceptions of mental illness of the viewers. Mental illness representations can be found quite prevalently among film and the way in which it is represented can be important as to how populations perceive those with mental disorders. This thesis looks to explore perceptions of mental illness and beliefs from those who have viewed films that portray characters with mental disorders. Through the use of an online survey, one hundred and ninety five participants provided data for this study. Based on previous research, it was hypothesized that individuals who had seen more films portraying mental illness would have more knowledge and sympathy regarding mental illness compared those who had seen less films portraying mental illness. It was also hypothesized that social stereotypes surrounding mental disorders would be present in the knowledge that individuals had more so than factual data about mental disorders. Women were predicted to express more sympathy than men. A statistical analysis program was used to analyze the resulting data including the use of correlations and t-tests. Evidence indicated that the amount of films viewed portraying mental illness did not have an impact on knowledge or sympathy regarding mental illness. Perceptions of mental illness are still a relevant topic and the awareness of facts surrounding mental disorders should continue to be spread.


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Thesis Completion





Donley, Amy


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Sciences




Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic



Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis