Advancing Research on the Spread of Stigmatizing Beliefs With Insights From Rumor Transmission

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Abstract

The essay examined a commonly stated but rarely elaborated assumption in stigma theories: Stigma must be socialized to engender community-level marginalization and discrimination. Existing research has focused on intrapersonal processes and structural factors that promote stigma socialization, but much less is known about how interpersonal sharing messages that induce stigmatization (i.e., stigma appeals) contributes to the diffusion and adoption of stigma throughout a community. Drawing from theories and research on rumor transmission, the essay explored three questions: Why do people share stigma appeals with others; what do they say; and with whom do they share them? The essay highlighted directions for future research on interpersonal sharing of stigma appeals and provided a heuristic foundation for research into mechanisms through which stigma is created and becomes persistent.

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Zhu, X., & Smith, R. (2016). Advancing Research on the Spread of Stigmatizing Beliefs With Insights From Rumor Transmission. American Behavioral Scientist, 60(11), 1342–1361. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764216657382

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