Turning Our Attention to Stigma: An Objective Self-Awareness Analysis of Stigma and Its Consequences

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Scholars have long debated stigma's effects on the psychological functioning of its targets, with some concluding that stigma does not harm self-esteem (Crocker & Major, 1989Crocker , J. , & Major , B. ( 1989 ). Social stigma and self-esteem: The self-protective properties of stigma .Psychological Review , 96 , 608 – 630 .[Crossref], [Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar]), and others taking the opposite stance. We propose a resolution to this debate by applying the theory of objective self-awareness (Duval & Wicklund, 1972Duval , S. , & Wicklund , R. A. ( 1972 ). A theory of objective self-awareness . New York , NY : Academic Press . [Google Scholar]) to the literature on the psychological consequences of stigma. We argue that public stigma has negative consequences when its targets focus objectively on their stigmatized status. Explicitly applying objective self-awareness theory to the stigma literature casts new light on past findings and suggests directions for future research.

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Basic and Applied Social Psychology, v. 35, issue 1, p. 55-63