We believe that the difference between the AIDS and CMV vignettes found in Study 2 on rated homosexuality may underestimate the difference that was manipulated in Study 1. Study 2 was conducted in the weeks immediately following the announcement by Earvin “Magic” Johnson that he had been infected with HIV (the first five subjects were tested prior to the media reports). This announcement appears to have had an impact on people's a priori beliefs that a given individual infected with HIV is a homosexual (Crandall, Biernat, & O'Brien, 1993). This effect might have lowered the probability ratings in the AIDS condition, and presumably would have little or no direct impact on ratings in the CMV condition.
AIDS-Related Stigmatization: Instrumental and Symbolic Attitudes†
Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Volume 27, Issue 2, pages 95–123, January 1997
How to Cite
Crandall, C. S., Glor, J. and Britt, T. W. (1997), AIDS-Related Stigmatization: Instrumental and Symbolic Attitudes. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 27: 95–123. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1997.tb00625.x
- Issue published online: 31 JUL 2006
- Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
We investigate the role that instrumental and symbolic functions of attitudes play in the rejection of people infected with HIV. In a series of studies (total N = 431), we manipulate the symbolic component of AIDS, by comparing it to a fictitious disease that is identical in every way to AIDS, excepting its symbolic association with homosexuality and IV drug use. Two studies indicated that the symbolic component had no effect on either social distance or perceptions of disease severity. A third study indicated that instrumental aspects of severity, contagiousness, and treatability were significant determinants of social distance. A fourth study found that the stigma of association with homosexuality increased a mild disease's stigma. A fifth study showed that previous research showing the importance of a symbolic component in AIDS-related attitudes may have relied on a confounded measure of the symbolic component of attitudes. These 5 studies suggest the importance of both instrumental and symbolic attitudes in illness. Instrumental functions seem to outweigh the impact of symbolic functions of AIDS-related attitudes.