In modified labeling theory, Link and colleagues (1987, 1989) explicate how people use communication to cope with being labeled as members of a stigmatized group. In this paper, we change perspectives and investigate how a confidant's awareness of discrimination and devaluation associated with being labeled as a member of a stigmatized group ("mentally ill" or "smoker") motivates him or her to encourage a labeled loved one to engage in secrecy, withdrawal, or education to avoid the adverse actions associated with stigmatization. Results showed that a model of relationships among perceived devaluation and discrimination, coping strategies, and future disclosures extended well to unexpected confidants of a labeled loved one. This advice included encouraging the labeled loved one not to tell different people about their condition, which included health care providers. These findings also showed that people with experience in the labeling condition may have particular concern about stigmatization or rejection from different types of listeners, including close friends and health care providers.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health(social science)