Public Perceptions of Celebrity Cancer Deaths: How Identification and Emotions Shape Cancer Stigma and Behavioral Intentions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Celebrity cancer deaths can focus public attention on the disease like few events can. However, not all celebrities or their families are open about the exact cause of death. Anecdotal reports suggest that some do not reveal the exact cause of death due to fears of stigma associated with the specific type of cancer. However, empirical evidence regarding whether or how the cause of death actually impacts public perceptions and behaviors is lacking. A three (cause of death: nonspecified cancer, liver cancer, or lung cancer) by two (celebrity obituary: David Bowie or Alan Rickman) fully factorial between-subjects online experiment (N = 390) tested a proposed model of effects on identification, discrete emotional reactions, stigma-related perceptions, and behavioral intentions. Results suggest that specific causes of death do not have a direct impact on stigma but they can alter identification and emotional reactions, such as compassion and anxiety, which subsequently shape stigma-related perceptions and behavioral intentions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1385-1395
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Communication
Volume32
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication

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