Term of Award

Spring 2016

Degree Name

Master of Science in Experimental Psychology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Department

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Jessica J. Brooks

Committee Member 1

Amy Hackney

Committee Member 2

Nick Holtzman

Abstract

Negative attitudes and stigma toward individuals with mental health disorders, particularly substance use disorders, undoubtedly exist in communities around the globe. Lund and Boggero (2014) propose that negative attitudes toward mental health disorders have existed throughout history and across cultures, and there is an ongoing concern of how individuals with mental illness are affected by these negative attitudes (Poreddi, Thimmaiah, Pashupu, Ramachandra, & Badamath, 2014). Increasing levels of empathy in individuals has shown to decrease overall magnitude of negative attitudes; most empathy training tasks, however, are extensive and last several months. The current study examined the possibility of reducing negative implicit and explicit attitudes toward individuals with substance use disorders using a brief empathy training intervention (i.e., music videos). Participants experienced a significant increase in empathy levels, however, the increases between-groups were non-significant. A significant effect of empathy training on explicit attitudes toward individuals with substance use disorders was not detected. The Go/No-Go Association Task used as an implicit measure was not reliable; therefore implicit attitudes could not be used in interpretation. If brief empathy training were effective in increasing empathy and improving attitudes toward individuals with substance use disorders, future research should attempt to alter video content to improve attitudes toward other stigmatized groups.

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