Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. R. Wayne Fuqua

Second Advisor

Dr. John Hanley

Third Advisor

Dr. Lester Wright Jr.

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Galen Alessi


Literature suggests that children who exhibit habit disorders are less socially acceptable than children who do not exhibit such disorders. This series of studies investigated the social acceptability of adults who exhibit habit disorders. In Studies 1 and 2, undergraduate students rated the social acceptability of individuals who exhibited motor tics, vocal tics, hairpulling, and no habit. Results showed that the individuals with no habit were more socially acceptable than the individuals who exhibited either motor tics, vocal tics, or hairpulling.

In Study 3, videotapes were created in which actors simulated motor tics, vocal tics, Tourette’s Syndrome, and Trichotillomania. The behaviors were then rated as clinically valid portrayals of the behavior by mental health professionals.

Study 4 was conducted to test the psychometric properties of a measure of social acceptability (Social Acceptance Scale), and to examine the sequence effects of viewing individuals with habit disorders. Undergraduate participants rated (using the Social Acceptance Scale and another measure of social distance) videotapes of an individual (an actor on videotape from Study 3) who was simulating a motor tic followed by an individual who was net exhibiting the habit behavior. One week later participants returned and rated the tapes again. Results showed adequate test-retest reliability and concurrent validity of the Social Acceptance Scale. Results also showed the presence of sequence effects, with individuals exhibiting motor tics being viewed more negatively when preceded by a person who did not exhibit habit behaviors.

Study 5 tested the effects of habit frequency, topography, and gender on the social acceptability of individuals with habit behaviors. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four habit conditions (motor tics, vocal tics, Tourette's Syndrome, and Trichotillomania). Each participant was then asked to view ten videotapes, with each videotape containing a different frequency by topography by gender of actor combination. Results showed that (a) high frequency habit behaviors were less acceptable than low frequency behaviors, (b) habit behaviors with severe topographies were less acceptable than behaviors with mild topographies, and (c) the motor tic condition was significantly more acceptable than the remaining conditions. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.


Fifth Advisor: Dr. Raymond Miltenberger

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access