Community Norms about AIDS-Related Prejudice

Miller, C. T., Grover, K. W., Bunn, J. Y., & Solomon, S. E. (2011). Community norms about suppression of AIDS-related prejudice and perceptions of stigma by people with HIV or AIDS. Psychological Science, 22(5), 579-583.

This study investigated the relationship between community members’ motivation to control AIDS-related prejudice and the experience of stigma by community members with HIV or AIDS. As hypothesized, individuals with HIV or AIDS felt less stigmatized in communities where residents were internally motivated by personal values to control prejudice. In communities where residents were externally motivated by social pressure to control prejudice, individuals with HIV or AIDS were more likely to anticipate (though not to experience) stigmatization. The level of internal and external motivation to control prejudice within a community may affect how safe HIV-positive individuals feel disclosing their condition. Miller and colleagues concluded that prejudice-reduction interventions may be more successful when aimed at changing personal values (internal motivation) rather than when focused on social pressure (external motivation), which may actually backfire and cause suppressed prejudice to “leak out.”

Making Connections

Conformity
Motivation: Intrinsic and extrinsic
Norms
Prejudice

Media Supplement

Nearly half of all people living in with AIDS China have felt discrimination as a result of their condition. Although the spread of AIDS in China has abated, the social stigma experienced by HIV-positive individuals remains full-force. See the NPR podcast In China, AIDS Stigma Proves Difficult to Eliminate.