Dissertations and Theses @ UNI

Award Winner

Recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Master's Thesis Award - Second Place.

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Open Access Thesis


Cannabis--Public opinion; College students--Attitudes; Stigma (Social psychology);


Stigma can affect many aspects of life for those who are subject to stigmatization. As contact with stigmatized groups increases, less stigmatization occurs. Marijuana is one of the most commonly used illegal substances and is growing in popularity. Relatively few studies have examined the relations between stigma and specific substance use or particular characteristics of non-users that may influence stigma. Additionally, current anti-stigma interventions targeted at the general population have been largely unsuccessful in the reduction of stigma. The current study assesses a 25- minute online psychoeducational module designed to increase knowledge and reduce the stigma of recreational marijuana users in a more efficient, practical, engaging, and costeffective way which can be easily applied to any anti-stigma intervention program. The module surveyed 201 college students from a public Midwestern university where participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups; a module group (N = 104) and a control group (N = 97). Specifically, the module was shown to increase knowledge regarding marijuana, however, there was little to no impact on stigma (i.e., preferred social distance, perceived dangerousness, negative emotions regarding marijuana use). Additionally, findings indicate strong associations between the level of familiarity, the level of contact, and stigma. Specifically, as the level of familiarity or level of contact increases, less stigmatization occurs. In addition, limited support was found for the moderating role of gender, past marijuana use, and age on the established association between the level of familiarity and level of contact on stigma levels. Furthermore, we explored the relationship between the level of familiarity, the level of contact, and the likelihood of future use. After establishing this strong relationship, we examined whether sex, any past marijuana use, and age would moderate this potential relationship. Results indicate that when familiarity is high, individuals will have a higher likelihood of future use if they already have a prior history of marijuana use. However, there were little to no differences in the likelihood of future use when familiarity was low, even with a prior history of marijuana use. No other characteristics seemed to impact this relationship. Findings have implications for anti-stigma interventions.

Year of Submission


Year of Award

2018 Award

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Psychology


McNair Scholars Program at UNI

First Advisor

Dilbur D. Arsiwalla, Chair, Thesis Committee

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (xiii, 203 pages)



File Format


Included in

Psychology Commons