Date of Award
Director of Thesis
My thesis concerns how toxic positivity, especially the type we commonly see on social media, can affect perceptions and stigma around mental health issues on college campuses. Toxic positivity is the belief that a person should always maintain a positive mindset, no matter what situation they are in, and invalidates negative emotions. Previous research shows that toxic positivity can have a negative effect on mental health, but in this thesis, I study how toxic positivity affects perceptions about others with mental health issues, willingness to interact with those with mental health issues, and self-perception. It is important to research this because the stigma around mental health can lead to reluctance in seeking help, which can have many detrimental effects. I conduct an experiment among 121 University of South Carolina students in which I show them videos displaying toxic positivity to see if it would affect their perceptions of others with mental health issues, willingness to interact with those with mental health issues, or self-perception. There are not significant differences between the groups, but I discuss the likely reasoning behind this. I then propose multiple policy changes that could be implemented on university campuses to help combat toxic positivity and promote a more empathetic and supportive culture surrounding mental health issues.
Feltner, Madeline E., "Toxic Positivity and Perceptions of Mental Health" (2023). Senior Theses. 607.