Understanding Stigma By Association: The Roles Of Prior Attitudes And Objective Justification




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The interaction between Stigma by Association (SBA), Objective Justification (an excuse) and prior negative attitudes (homonegativity) was examined using a mock scholarship application and a recommendation index. In Study 1, 139 participants were randomly assigned to one of four experimental conditions in a 2 (Stigma Alliance: allied vs. neutral) x 2 (Objective Justification: high GPA vs. low GPA) between-subjects factorial design. Prior attitudes toward homosexuals were measured using the Short-form ATLG (Herek, 1988). Study 2 (N = 170) replicated Study 1 and added an index for possible friendship. In both studies it was hypothesized that there would be a main effect of Objective Justification, and that Stigma Alliance and the ATLG scores would interact with Objective Justification. When applicants were allied, ALTG negatively predicted recommendation scores for lower GPA applicants, but not higher GPA applicants. When applicants were not allied, however, ATLG had no effect, and only a main effect of Objective Justification (viz., GPA) was observed. These results were consistent in both studies and were also found for the friendship index in Study 2. Findings indicate a need for further research to discover when SBA begins to emerge so that interventions, be it personal or professional, can be adapted.