Term of Award

Spring 2018

Degree Name

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

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Karen Naufel

Committee Member 1

Lawrence Locker

Committee Member 2

Amy Hackney


The APA advocates for the use of person-first language in order to reduce stigma towards people with disabilities or diseases (Dunn & Andrews, 2015). However, little research exists that empirically tests the effects of using person-first language. The current study aims to explore the effects of person-first language towards those with cancer and HIV/AIDS to examine if language affects stigma, empathy, and feelings of closeness towards them. An interaction was hypothesized in that person-first language for HIV/AIDS would show greater increases in empathy and closeness than using person-first language for cancer. Results showed a significant main effect of disease on stigma, empathy, and feelings of closeness, but no significant main effects of language. This research may suggest that the nature of the illness, rather than the use of person-first language or disability-first language, is important for trying to increase empathy and perceived closeness to people who have cancer or HIV/AIDS.

Research Data and Supplementary Material