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Reminders of a Stigmatized Status Might Help Smokers Quit

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As members of a devalued group, it is not surprising that smokers experience stigmatization and discrimination. But it is not clear if smokers react to these experiences by moving toward or away from their group membership and identity as smokers. Guided by the identity threat model of stigma (Major and O'Brien, 2005) we examined the process of stigmatization and its emotional, cognitive, attitudinal, and behavioral consequences. We experimentally examined how reading a stigmatizing newspaper article or a control article (Experiment 1) and recalling one's experience with smoking discrimination or a control prompt (Experiment 2) affected smokers' responses. We also examined the role of cultural contexts (U.S. vs. Denmark; only in Experiment 1) and smoking identity. In Experiment 1, we used a community sample of smokers from the U.S. (N = 111) and Denmark (N = 111). We found that reading the stigmatizing article (compared to the control) caused more rejection sensitivity (U.S. participants only) and more intentions to quit smoking (both U.S. and Danish participants) for smokers low in smoking identity. In Experiment 2, we used an online sample of 194 U.S. smokers and found that recalling instances of mistreatment made smokers more stressed, rejection sensitive, and interested in smoking cessation, when smokers appraised the stigma cue as threatening. Thus, we generally found that identity threat moved smokers toward leaving their stigmatized group (e.g., quitting smoking) rather than away from it. Our studies highlight the importance of understanding psychological process by which smokers distance themselves from their spoiled identity.

TidsskriftStigma and health
Udgave nummer3
Sider (fra-til)273-283
Antal sider11
StatusUdgivet - aug. 2020

ID: 84635502