Honors College Theses

Date

2019

Major

Psychology (B.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Karen Z. Naufel

Abstract

This study examined the potential effects of illusory boundaries (in the form of county lines on a map) on distance judgments, specifically distance to mental health care (therapy) and perceived accessibility to said mental health care. 47 undergraduate psychology students completed our study through SONA on Qualtrics. Participants were presented with a series of 10 maps. Each map had two pins, one labelled “you are here” and the other labelled “therapy location” with a key on the bottom for reference (however, participants were instructed to not use their fingers as a measurement tool to keep the distance judgment a perceived estimate). Five of the maps contained boundaries between “your location” and the “therapy location” while the other five did not. For each map, participants answered three questions: one in the form of a sliding scale estimating distance from “your location” to the “therapy location” on the map, and two in the form of Likert-type scales rating participants’ perception of ease of access to therapy and accessibility to therapy. A paired-samples t-test was used to analyze the data. A statistically significant difference was found for perceived accessibility between conditions; when an illusory boundary was present between locations, participants perceived accessibility to be lower than when the two locations were within the same county. This research has implications for rural mental health care accessibility in the context of perceived illusory boundaries.

Thesis Summary

This study examined the potential effects of illusory boundaries (in the form of county lines on a map) on distance judgments, specifically distance to mental health care (therapy) and perceived accessibility to said mental health care. A statistically significant difference was found for perceived accessibility between conditions; when an illusory boundary was present between locations, participants perceived accessibility to be lower than when the two locations were within the same county. This research has implications for rural mental health care accessibility in the context of perceived illusory boundaries.

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