Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis




Clinical-Community Psychology

First Advisor

Bret Kloos


For many people who experience psychiatric disabilities (PD), community experiences are largely characterized by stigmatizing interactions, discrimination, and losses of opportunities for employment, housing, or relationships. Social withdrawal and loss of self-esteem can be secondary consequences of such negative experiences. However, research has also explored various mechanisms through which people in historically stigmatized social groups can minimize some of the negative effects of stigma. Many of these strategies are theorized to be similar to a mental health recovery orientation which emphasizes the empowerment, capabilities, and strengths of mental health consumers. The present investigation explores the possibility of recovery attenuating some of the negative consequences of perceived stigma for individuals diagnosed with PD. Specifically, the study hypothesizes that the relationship between perceived stigma and social functioning indicators (i.e., vocational engagement, social network size and contact, community integration) will be stronger in those with a lower sense of recovery than those in a high recovery group. A series of logistic and linear regressions testing perceived stigma as a predictor of the three outcomes were compared for participants with recovery scores in the highest and lowest thirds of the sample. Results partially supported hypotheses for social networks and community integration: those with a higher sense of recovery experienced a weaker relationship between stigma and these negative outcomes than their lower-recovery peers. This finding supports the theory that one's sense of recovery has potential to attenuate some of the negative outcomes associated with stigmatizing attitudes. Contrary to hypotheses, however, results of analyses on vocational engagement indicated a positive relationship between stigma and vocational engagement, suggesting that those with more vocational experiences are more aware of stigmatizing attitudes. Altogether, these findings provide a basis for further theory-building and research on the relationship between recovery, stigmatizing attitudes, and community experiences.


© 2013, Betsy Alison Davis

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