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A Social Cognition Perspective of Stigma. A presentation at Lawrence University on May 18, 2006 by JOHN B. PRYOR, Ph.D. Illinois State University. Outline of Today’s Talk 1) What is a stigma? Some basic concepts.

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a social cognition perspective of stigma

A Social Cognition Perspective of Stigma

A presentation at Lawrence University

on May 18, 2006

by JOHN B. PRYOR, Ph.D.

Illinois State University

slide2

Outline of Today’s Talk

1) What is a stigma? Some basic concepts.

2) Some theories about stigma: Evolutionary Psychology & Socio-Cultural Approaches

3) A dual processmodel of reactions to stigma

4) Study 1: A time course in reactions to a variety of different stigmas - the roles of disgust sensitivity, motivational to control prejudice, and attributions about onset control

4) Study 2: Evidence for two factors in reactions to children with HIV/AIDS

5) Study 3: The unfolding impact of reflexive and rule-based processes in reactions to PWAs over time

6) Conclusions

slide3

According to Crocker, Major, and Steele (1998) "a person who is stigmatized is a person whose social identity, or membership in some social category calls into question his or her full humanity--the person is devalued, spoiled or flawed in the eyes of others (p. 504)."

the evolutionary psychology perspective on stigma

The Evolutionary Psychology Perspective on Stigma

Kurzban & Leary (2001)

The social exclusion of the stigmatized is found across all cultures and even in many non-human animals. Stigma avoidance may have helped our ancestors survive.

  • Evolutionary psychologists suggest that human beings evolved to avoid:
    • Poor social exchange partners
    • Members of lower status or conflicting groups
    • People likely to carry communicable pathogens.
socio cultural perspectives on stigma

Socio-Cultural Perspectives on Stigma

Crandall & Eshleman, 2003

People learn to associate negative evaluations with group labels. Negative reactions to persons with stigma essentially represent a form of prejudice.

People also learn that it is socially acceptable to express negative reactions to some groups and not others (a form of political correctness).

The perceived onset controllability of a stigma is crucially related to whether prejudice is socially acceptable or not.

the case of obesity
The Case of Obesity
  • According to BMI analyses, 31% of Americans are obese. Only 19% describe themselves as such.
  • Obesity has been shown to relate to negative employment decisions in hiring, promotion, & firing.
  • Obesity is a more powerful stigma for white women. Mildly obese white women make 5.9% lower wages than their standard weight counterparts; morbidly obese white women make 24.1% lower.
  • Parents are less likely to financially support their heavyweight daughters’ college educations.
  • In a study of adolescent overweight girls, 96 percent reported perceived negative experiences because of their weight, including hurtful comments, weight-related teasing, jokes and derogatory names.
the blame game
The blame game
  • People have less negative reactions to obese people when they are told that the person has genetic disorder
  • Cross-cultural studies show that the tendency to blame obese persons for their conditions varies across cultures. More negative reactions are found in cultures where there is an ideology of blame.
the dual process model
The Dual Process Model

People have both

REFLEXIVE

&

RULE-BASED

psychological reactions to stigmas.

a dual process model of reactions to perceived stigma
Reflexive Processes

Immediate reactions

Often emotional, often negative, often involve avoidance

May reflect instinctual processes

May reflect associative processes

Rule-based Processes

Thoughtful, deliberative reactions

Take time to unfold

Control processes

May involve approach or avoidance

Bring into play attributional considerations – why questions

A dual-process model of reactions to perceived stigma
slide19

The Psychological Impact of Rule-based and Reflexive

Processes Over Time

Rule-based

processes

Reflexive

processes

Psychological Impact

Time

study 1 hypotheses

Study 1: Hypotheses

  • Social norms about blame will be related to how people react to stigmas. The relationship between blame and negative reactions to stigmas will be more pronounced after people have had time to think about their reactions.
  • Sensitivity to certain emotions will enhance initial avoidance toward stigmas.
  • As people have time to think about their reactions to stigmas, they will be more likely to adjust them according to their motives to be politically correct.
slide22

Mean Ratings of Personal Responsibility for

the Onset of Stigmas

Personal Responsibility for Onset

instructions to participants
Instructions to Participants

Imagine that you have a summer job working at a hospital. The title of your job is "TRANSPORTATION SPECIALIST." The hospital is very large and has many different units. Units include an emergency room, critical care, drug/alcohol rehabilitation, oncology (cancer unit), cardiac unit, psychiatric unit, and counseling services. Your primary task is to transport patients from each unit to the discharge area. This task includes physically moving patients--helping them to get in and out of a wheelchair. Every patient is required to leave the hospital in a wheelchair irregardless of whether the person is capable of walking. You are also expected to initiate conversation with the patients. In this experiment you will be introduced to a variety of different people. Imagine that these individuals are the patients you have to transport to the discharge area.

slide25

Approach/Avoidance Reactions to Persons with Stigmas

Perceived to have Controllable, Neutral, or Uncontrollable Onsets

sensitivity to disgust scale haidt mccauley rozin 1994
Sensitivity to Disgust ScaleHaidt, McCauley, & Rozin (1994)

8 domains of disgust (Coefficient Alpha = .82)

  • Food - I might be willing to eat monkey meat under some circumstances.
  • Animals - It would bother me to see a rat run across my path in a park.
  • Body Products - It bothers me to hear someone clear a throat full of mucous.
  • Sex - I think homosexual activities are immoral.
  • Envelope Violations - You see a man with his intestines exposed after an accident.
  • Death - It would bother me tremendously to touch a dead body.
  • Hygiene - You discover that a friend of your changes underwear only once a week.
  • Magic - A friend offers you a piece of chocolate shaped like dog doo.
slide27
Motivation to Control Prejudice Against Persons with Stigma QuestionnairePryor, Reeder, Yeadon, & Hesson-McInnis (2004)

Coefficient Alpha = .88

1) I attempt to act in non-prejudiced ways towards people with AIDS (people who have cancer, people who are obese) because it is personally important to me.

2) I am personally motivated by my beliefs to be non-prejudiced towards people with AIDS (people who have cancer, people who are obese) .

3)Being non-prejudiced towards people with AIDS (people who have cancer, people who are obese) is important to my self concept.

4) My personal beliefs and values determine how I respond to people with AIDS (people who have cancer, people who are obese) more than my concern with others’ reactions.

5) My personal beliefs and standards are more important in my decision for how to act towards people with AIDS (people who have cancer, people who are obese) than is my concern for how others will react.

slide28

Percent of Variance in Relationships between Distance and

Disgust Sensitivity vs. Motivation to Control Prejudice regarding

Stigma over Time

slide30

A Stigma Evokes a Collection of Associations

death

homosexuality

affect

affect

H I V

affect

misfortune

illness

drug use

affect

affect

slide31

x

x

x

x

x

H I V

Can reflexive reactions to

a stigma be activated by

an arbitrary associative

chain?

HOMOSEXUALS

affect

x

x

x

x

x

attitudes toward lesbians and gay men
Attitudes toward lesbians and gay men

EXAMPLE ITEMS

Female homosexuality is bad for society because it breaks down the natural divisions between the sexes.

State laws against private sexual behavior between consenting adult women should be abolished.

Female homosexuality is a sin.

I think male homosexuals are disgusting.

If a man has homosexual feelings, he should do everything he can to overcome them.

Male homosexuality is merely a different kind of lifestyle that should not be condemned.

motivation to control prejudice against pwas questionnaire
Motivation to Control Prejudice Against PWAs Questionnaire

(Coefficient Alpha = .76)

1) I attempt to act in non-prejudiced ways towards people with AIDS because it is personally important to me.

2) I am personally motivated by my beliefs to be non-prejudiced towards people with AIDS.

3)Being non-prejudiced towards people with AIDS is important to my self concept.

4) My personal beliefs and values determine how I respond to people with AIDS more than my concern with others’ reactions.

5) My personal beliefs and standards are more important in my decision for how to act towards people with AIDS than is my concern for how others will react.

slide34

Step 1

Hierarchical Multiple

Regression for 98

Undergraduates

Attitudes

toward

Lesbians &

Gay Men

R =.37

F (1,97)=14.93, p <.01

Attitudes

toward

having

lunch with

Child

with HIV

Step 2

Motivation

To Control

Prejudice

R =.46

F (1,96)=9.89, p <.01

(for change)

slide35

Step 1

Hierarchical Multiple

Regression for 98

Undergraduates

Motivation

To Control

Prejudice

R =.32

F (1,97)=10.79, p <.01

Attitudes

toward

having

lunch with

Child

with HIV

Step 2

Attitudes

toward

Lesbians &

Gay Men

R =.46

F (1,96)=13.96, p <.01

(for change)

slide36

Study 3: A time course in the impact of reflexive and reflective factors on reactions to someone with HIV/AIDS

slide37

The Psychological Impact of Rule-based and Reflexive

Processes Over Time

Rule-based

processes

Reflexive

processes

Psychological Impact

Time

slide38
Participants were told they would be going on a “trust walk” with the other participant they rated most positively
slide40

Screen used by participants to react to

information concerning the “other participants.”

questions answers
Where are you from and how long have you been at ISU?

Do you belong to any organizations on campus or do you work?

List your three favorite hobbies?

What do you feel makes you unique?

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I am from Peoria and I am a freshman

I pledged a fraternity this year

sports, going to frat stuff, computer games (like Tomb Raider)

After a car accident, I had a blood transfusion. From that transfusion I got HIV/AIDS.

I want to get a Masters & work for a large software company. I want to develop software and some day have my own company and be filthy rich

Questions & Answers
slide42

Distance from all 3 Persons Over Time on the Fourth Trial

450

400

Distance from Person

350

Burglar

Honors Student

300

PWA

250

0

0.5

1

1.5

2

2.5

3

3.5

4

4.5

5

5.5

6

6.5

7

7.5

8

8.5

9

9.5

Time (secs.)

slide43

Relationships of Avoidance of a PWA to Internal Motivation

to Control Prejudice and Heterosexuals' Attitudes toward

Homosexuality on the 4th Trial

Time (500 ms. intervals)

slide44

Conclusions of Today’s Talk

Psychological reactions to perceived

stigma involve two processes: an immediate, reflexive

process and a more thoughtful, rule-based process.

These two processes do not seem to function in some discrete stage-like fashion, rather they interact dynamically to influence approach/avoidance reactions over time.

Anti-stigma interventions could attempt to alter either or both processes. Interventions that have incorporated contact with stigmatized persons have been shown to be effective in reducing negative reactions to persons with HIV, persons with mental illnesses, and other stigmatized groups. Contact interventions may reduce reflexive negative reactions.