Tweeting and Trivializing: How the Trivialization of Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder via Social Media Impacts User Perceptions, Emotions, and Behaviors

Rachelle Pavelko, Jessica Gall Myrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


A quick search of social media websites demonstrates that users often describe their benign behaviors (e.g., organizing drawers or color-coding) as related to obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). Yet, the actual disease is complex and often much more severe than suggested by Twitter users who employ the term #OCD. The present experiment examines the effects of such disease trivialization on social media users’ perceptions of the disease, emotional reactions, and intentions to take action related to the disease. To do so, it first explicates the concept of disease trivialization as a three-part phenomenon involving oversimplification, decreased severity, and mockery. Findings from an experiment (N = 574) indicate that different patterns of emotional reactions can be found in response to framing of OCD as either trivial, clinical, or both trivial and clinical. Moreover, significant interactions between independent variables were found. Participant gender and preexisting familiarity with OCD also shaped participant perceptions and behavioral intentions. Directions for future work are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-63
Number of pages23
JournalImagination, Cognition and Personality
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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