Insights into stigma management communication theory: considering stigmatization as interpersonal influence

Rachel A. Smith, Rachael E. Bishop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The theory of stigma management communication has helped identify and categorize the tactics people use to manage stigmatization, but tactics' predictors remain unknown. To address this gap, we considered stigmatization through the lens of interpersonal influence: as an act in which stigmatizers attempt to persuade their targets to accept categorization and de-individualization into a social group with a marginalized social status. Obstacle hypothesis, a theory of resistance to interpersonal influence, was used to derive predictors. Participants (N = 124) facing possible stigmatization due to their genetic risk for a chronic health condition completed a survey and shared memories of their initial test disclosures. The empirical tests showed that having a stronger sense of meaning in life, more unsafe experiences, and a broader information network predicted resisting stigmatization. The practical implications of bolstering one's sense of meaning in life and argumentation skills and their connections to resilience research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-590
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Applied Communication Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 3 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


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