Date of Award


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Iva Naydenova


TikTok’s popularity and ease of use with short-term consumption allow for greater access to online information. However, this information is not regulated nor fact-checked. Therefore, many users can acquire and spread the wrong messages, behaviors, and ideas surrounding mental illness. The purpose of this research was to examine the effects and factors of TikTok on self-diagnosing mental illnesses. A large literature was conducted to examine the effects of social media and the harms of self-diagnosing on users. Two studies were then developed and administered to determine the relationship between self-diagnosing and TikTok. Correlations, t-tests, and descriptive statistics were used to measure the data. Study one examined that when users find videos reliable (regardless of misinformation), then they are more likely to self-diagnose. Study two found that college-aged users, gender, communities, vague information, and authority figures affected someone’s likelihood to self-diagnose. The implications of this research explain that users should be more aware of the information they encounter. At the same time, companies should combat the spread of misinformation on all short-form platforms to prevent the harm of self-diagnosing their users. Future research should examine other populations, conduct experiments, and further validate measures to better understand the role of self-diagnosing and misinformation via social media.