Stigma consciousness: the psychological legacy of social stereotypes

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1999 Jan;76(1):114-28. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.76.1.114.


Whereas past researchers have treated targets of stereotypes as though they have uniform reactions to their stereotyped status (e.g., J. Crocker & B. Major, 1989; C. M. Steele & J. Aronson, 1995), it is proposed here that targets differ in the extent to which they expect to be stereotyped by others (i.e., stigma consciousness). Six studies, 5 of which validate the stigma-consciousness questionnaire (SCQ), are presented. The results suggest that the SCQ is a reliable and valid instrument for detecting differences in stigma consciousness. In addition, scores on the SCQ predict perceptions of discrimination and the ability to generate convincing examples of such discrimination. The final study highlights a behavioral consequence of stigma consciousness: the tendency for people high in stigma consciousness to forgo opportunities to invalidate stereotypes about their group. The relation of stigma consciousness to past research on targets of stereotypes is considered as is the issue of how stigma consciousness may encourage continued stereotyping.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Homosexuality, Female / psychology
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory
  • Prejudice*
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Conformity
  • Social Identification
  • Stereotyping*
  • Students / psychology