Motivation and emotion/Book/2017/Stigma and emotion

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Stigma and emotion:
What are the emotional effects of being stigmatised?
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In society, individuals are commonly divided into groups dependent on specific characteristics or traits they may possess. This process occurs both explicitly and implicitly. However it is the bias and misinterpretation of characteristics which leads to the concept of Social Stigma. This has been an issue throughout history and is still occurring today. There are many theories and explanations as to why this phenomena occurs and many of those relate back to social psychologists and their concepts of social interactions. Such as Becker's Labelling theory and the Social Identity Theory. In conjunction to these theories exploring the process of stigmatisation, theories of emotion can be applied to the concept of how an individual interprets others emotional reactions and thus how these effect their own emotions. This can be seen in theories such as, Cognitive Appraisal Theory and The Self-fulfilling prophecy. The understanding gained from the application of these theories can be applied to specific characteristics or groups, to expand understanding of the emotional consequences of stigma. The groups in specific focus include mental illnesses, obesity and gender.


To identify the significance of stigma, it is important to understand the distinctions between these related topics.


A stereotype is a broadly recognised characteristic or behaviour which is thought to be representative of the whole population or group which may or may not be true.


Prejudice is based off a stereotypical view of a person or group, which commonly negative.


Derived from prejudice, discrimination is known to be the action of prejudice.


Disapproval of individual or group based on social stereotyping leading to prejudice. Multiple people or groups contribute to the concept of non-conformist behaviours.

Theories of social stigma[edit]

Evolutionary theory[edit]

Durkheim's theory of stigma[edit]

Goffman's theory of stigma[edit]

Goffman suggested that as a society, individuals are catagorised based on attributes they posses (Goffman, 1964). It is due to this process that stigma exists. it is about social control.

Labelling theory[edit]

Labelling Theory explains the consequences of deviating from societal norms. Once the individual or group has been labelled as a deviant, they are more likely to be exposed to stereotypical views of that behaviour. (Becker, 1963)

Social identity theory[edit]

Figure 1. Tajfel's explanation of 'In' versus 'Out' groups.
  • Henri Tajfel (1979)
  • In-groups versus Out-groups
  • The groups we belong to give increased sense of pride and self-esteem. However when the groups we belong to are considered socially deviant, and are exposed to stigmatisation issues related to self worth can arise.



Theories of emotion[edit]


  • Concept of Self-Schemas and how they can change depending on the external environment and internal pressures. (Markus, 1977)

Cognitive appraisal theory[edit]

  • Figure 2. The basis of Lazarus' cognitive appraisal theory.
    Appraisal Theory
  • Emotional differences, depending on how the situation is interpreted.
  • Individuals experience emotions differently depending on how they cognitively interpret the situation (Lazarus, 1991).

Self-fulfilling prophecy[edit]

  • Robert. K. Merton (1948)
  • The way in which a stigmatised group or individual copes emotionally may be due to the concept of self-fulfilling prophecy. This theory states that through the beliefs and actions of the rest of society, the beliefs and actions of stigmatised groups are changed to fit the view of the rest of society.

Areas of Interest[edit]

Mental health disorders[edit]


  • Figure 3. Kew Asylum, Victoria, Australia. An example of a historic asylum for the mentally ill.
    History of mental disorders
  • Historical Context.
  • Asylums
  • Religious explanations

Emotional effect[edit]

  • Social Isolation
  • Prevention of Help-seeking behaviours
  • Impact on recovery


Figure 4. Obesity and BMI. How obesity is defined in most Countries.
  • Definition
  • Types of stigma which occur
  • Historical development of stigmatisation of obesity
Emotional effect[edit]
  • Self-fulfilling prophecy
  • impact upon self schema

Reducing Stigma[edit]


  • What are the take-home messages?

See also[edit]


  • Becker, H. S. (1963). Outsiders; studies in the sociology of deviance. London: Free Press of Glencoe.
  • Goffman, E. (1964). Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. Social Forces, 43(1), p.127.
  • Lazarus, R. (1991). Progress on a cognitive-motivational-relational theory of emotion. American Psychologist, 46(8), pp.819-834.
  • Markus, H. (1977). Self-schemata and processing information about the self. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35(2), pp.63-78.
  • Merton, R. (1948). The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. The Antioch Review, 8(2), p.193.
  • Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1979). An integrative theory of intergroup conflict. The social psychology of intergroup relations?, 33, 47

External links[edit]