Date of Award

Spring 5-26-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Forensic Psychology



First Advisor or Mentor

Philip T. Yanos

Second Reader

Gabriel Camacho

Third Advisor

Corinne Ortega


Identity plays a key role in all matters regarding mental health, especially in experiences of stigma. Stigma, a term used to describe the processes of labeling and stereotyping of particular groups, has been shown to be a major contributor to mental health outcomes. Internalization of stigma, is an emotional and behavioral response that further affects an individual’s functioning beyond the effects of a mental disorder. The relationship between stigma and certain identities, such as gender, have been clearly demonstrated in prior research. However, identity is a complex concept that varies in meaning between individuals. The significance of a particular identity relative to other identities within an individual, termed identity centrality (IC), is a concept that has been scarcely studied. This notion is generally defined as the extent that an identity is considered central and important to one’s sense of self. Identity centrality has been shown to alter perception and has been studied as a moderating variable when measuring distress and behavior, in certain populations. This study aimed to identify the differences in levels of internalized stigma (IS) and identity centrality (IC) in a sample (N=191) of Latinx individuals diagnosed with a mental illness (MI). Participants were surveyed to determine centrality between two identities: ethnicity and experience of a MI. Participants who scored higher centrality in their ethnicity were placed in the “ethnicity” group and those with higher centrality in their experience with a MI were placed in the “MI” group. A t-test was performed to compare means between both groups in IS, identity regard, and self-esteem. The results show that the MI group scored higher levels of IS and lower levels of self-esteem when compared with the ethnicity group. Both groups show generally negative attitudes about their experience with an MI and positive attitudes about their ethnic identity.



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