A paradox of support seeking and rejection among the stigmatized

Authors

  • STACEY L. WILLIAMS,

    Corresponding author
    1. East Tennessee State University
      Stacey Williams, East Tennessee State University, Department of Psychology, Johnson City, TN 37614, e-mail: williasl@etsu.edu.
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      Stacey L. Williams, Department of Psychology, East Tennessee State University
  • KRISTIN D. MICKELSON

    1. Kent State University
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      Kristin D. Mickelson, Department of Psychology, Kent State University.

  • Stacey L. Williams, Department of Psychology, East Tennessee State University; Kristin D. Mickelson, Department of Psychology, Kent State University.

  • We thank Dr. Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton for his comments on an early draft. Study 2 was supported by Geis Memorial Dissertation funds awarded to the first author by Division 35 of the American Psychological Association.

Stacey Williams, East Tennessee State University, Department of Psychology, Johnson City, TN 37614, e-mail: williasl@etsu.edu.

Abstract

Individuals perceiving stigma may be unwilling to seek support directly. Instead, they may use indirect strategies due to fear of rejection. Ironically, indirect seeking leads to unsupportive network responses (i.e., rejection). In Study 1, data collected from structured interviews of a sample of U.S. women in poverty (N= 116) showed that perceived poverty-related stigma was related to increased fear of rejection, which in turn partially mediated perceived stigma and indirect seeking. In Study 2, data gathered from structured interviews of a sample of U.S. abused women (N= 177) revealed that perceived abuse-related stigma was linked to increased indirect seeking, which in turn related to increased unsupportive network responses. By contrast, direct support seeking was related to increased supportive and decreased unsupportive responses.

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