Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

Bruce S. Zahn, Ed.D., ABPP

Second Advisor

Susan P. Mindel, PhD

Third Advisor

Patrick Boyle, PsyD


The purpose of this study was to determine whether recovery knowledge in psychology doctoral students reduced stigma toward individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Participants of this study consisted of 287 psychology doctoral students who differed in theoretical orientation, program type, clinical experience, and program year. More specifically, this study examined differences between different levels of recovery knowledge (low, medium, high) and different diagnoses (major depressive disorder [MDD], generalized anxiety disorder [GAD], BPD) on expressed stigma. Each student completed the Recovery Knowledge Inventory (RKI), read a vignette describing either BPD, depression, or anxiety, completed the Attribution Questionnaire (AQ-27) based on the vignette, and completed a demographic questionnaire. A two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to determine whether recovery knowledge moderates the relationship between diagnoses and stigma. The results suggested that diagnosis and recovery knowledge independently affected the stigma ratings. BPD and MDD were more stigmatized than GAD; however, there was no significant difference between the stigma ratings for BPD and MDD. Those who had high recovery knowledge had lower stigmatizing attitudes and beliefs than those that had medium or low levels of recovery knowledge. Recovery knowledge did not moderate the relationship between diagnosis and stigma. Furthermore, participants who had DBT training did not have lower stigma ratings. This study revealed that although recovery knowledge reduces stigma, BPD is still highly stigmatized by psychologists-in-training. Future research on ways to train doctoral psychology students to increase self-awareness of their own stigmatizing attitudes, combat stigma, and implement recovery-oriented practices is needed.

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