Document Type

Honors Paper


Audrey Zakriski

Publication Date



The present study examined the effects of symptoms and diagnostic labeling on teachers’ accommodations for and opinions of a student presented in a vignette containing a behavioral description of ADHD or Bipolar Disorder in an adolescent girl. Participants were 85 teachers from five New England private high schools who read a vignette and then answered subsequent questions in an online survey to measure opinions of that student and hypothetical accommodations. Additionally, questions measured participants’ familiarity with mental illness, opinions on mental illness, and beliefs in the causes of the disorders so that the relationship of these variables to accommodations and impressions could be examined. Results indicated that teachers were more affected by the symptoms of the disorder they read about than whether the disorders were labeled or unlabeled, although labeling seemed to have some minor effects. These results connect with a set of findings, within a mixed body of research, that shows that labels do not always have a major effect on participants, and instead it is the behavior of people that changes others’ judgments. Several findings may have implications for students in private high schools that are looking to receive help and support from their teachers, and for schools that are looking to enhance teaching responsiveness to students with mental illness.



The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.