Bound Volume Number


Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-4-2015

Capstone Advisor

Dr. Leonard Newman

Honors Reader

Dr. Peter Vanable

Capstone Major


Capstone College

Arts and Science

Audio/Visual Component



mental illness, stigma

Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Social Sciences

Subject Categories

Experimental Analysis of Behavior


The purpose of this research is to examine people’s readiness to form an association between those diagnosed with a mental health condition and negative behavior in the absence of objective evidence for that association. The research expands on a traditional illusory correlation paradigm to include social group information and two types of negative behavioral statements. The traditional paradigm exposes research participants to a series of statements describing the behaviors of members of two different social groups, including desirable and undesirable behaviors, and participants are then required to recall behavioral information and rank members of both groups on a series of character traits.

One hundred and nineteen undergraduate students enrolled in the Introduction to Psychology course, Psychology 205, at Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY, served as participants for this research. The findings demonstrated that the illusory correlation effect was replicated across all conditions and was influenced slightly by negative behavior type. Participants were especially likely to demonstrate a bias toward the control group, perhaps because the negative behaviors of control group members were more unexpected or unusual to participants than negative behaviors of the mentally ill group.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.



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