Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Keeley, Jared W.

Committee Member

Armstrong, Kevin J.

Committee Member

Eakin, Deborah

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

MSU Only Indefinitely

Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Campus Access Only


Clinical Psychology

Degree Name

Master of Science


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Psychology


Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a severe psychiatric disorder affecting approximately 12% of men and 25% of women nationally in the nonclinical population. The aim of this research was to determine if lay individuals could differentiate between MDD and normal sadness. To evaluate the lay understanding of MDD and normal sadness, students at a large Southeastern university read four vignettes describing varying severity levels of MDD and normal sadness and then answered a variety of questions relating to the vignettes. Additionally, the lay conceptualizations of MDD were compared and contrasted to the professional conceptualizations of MDD. The principal hypothesis was that lay individuals could not differentiate between clinical depression and normal sadness because the two concepts have become synonymous in today’s society. In fact, results showed that lay individuals could not differentiate between threshold MDD and subthreshold MDD.