Honors Program Theses


Open Access Honors Program Thesis

First Advisor

Carolyn Hildebrandt, Honors Thesis Advisor, Psychology


The purpose of this pilot study was to examine the attitudes of college-age students on the use of essential oils, alternative medicines, and modern medicine. Essential oils are natural oils that contain the essence/fragrance of a plant and are often used for cleaning purposes (e.g., in soaps, detergents, disinfectant sprays) and therapeutic purposes (e.g., relieving aches and pains, calming a person, healing illnesses and injuries, improving mood). Although essential oils are primarily used in alternative medicine, some oils have also been used on an experimental basis in modern medical settings (Corner et al., 1995).

College-age students took part in an online survey aimed at determining their attitudes toward modern medicine, alternative medicine, and the use of essential oils for health purposes. Questions of the study included (1) what are the characteristics of individuals likely to use essential oils? (2) how do attitudes toward essential oils compare to attitudes toward modern medicine? and (3) how do these attitudes compare to attitudes toward alternative medicine? It was hypothesized that more female students would have used essential oils than male students, students in science-related fields would use essential oils less than students in other disciplines, and individuals who have a great belief in alternative medicines would be more accepting of the use of essential oils for health benefits than individuals who have a greater belief in modern medicine. Due to a small sample size (22 students) comprised mostly of female participants (18), these hypotheses could not be formally tested. However, informal results indicated that college-age students find modern medical techniques (vaccines, medications) to be safe and effective. In addition, results indicated that approximately half of college-age students find essential oils to be safe and effective. Lastly, attitudes towards alternative medicines were Running Head: COLLEGE-AGE STUDENTS’ ATTITUDES TOWARD ESSENTIAL OILS indifferent, with the majority of students answering neutrally when asked about the safety and efficacy of different alternative therapies (reiki, meditation, hypnosis.)

Year of Submission



Department of Psychology

University Honors Designation

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation University Honors

Date Original


Object Description

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