Stigma in the community is caused by diversity and differences

Is already known that stigma can cause a big impact in the social environment. Unfortunately, stigma is more common then what we can think, and is present everywhere. Stigma happens when we label other people or treat them differently because of a personal characteristic or a different behavior that make them look deviant or flawed (Schneider, Grumman, & Coutts, 2012, p. 284). Many physical or emotional aspects of a person can cause stigma such as age, gender orientation, religious choices and beliefs, social causes and diseases (Bresnahan, & Zhuang, 2016, p. 1284). In Greek, the work stigmatizein means to blemish and is one of the first words in early human history to be applied to the act of labeling others. No matter the reason why anyone should use stigma against others, it is very clear that stigma can cause negative effects and plays an important role influencing people’s behavior and reactions (Bresnahan, & Zhuang, 2016, p. 1284).

There is no a specific way to control or radically change stigma nowadays because of the large societies where we live. In the past, social interactions were formed by smaller groups and it was easier for people to process social cues of their environment. They also had the chance to have different constructs because their perception about their environment was limited (PSU, WC, Psych 424, lesson 11, 2016). Nowadays, we all face different social challenges and social interactions because our groups are larger; the concepts of social environment have changed since we developed a fast pace lifestyle, acquired technological communication tools and grew our cities. Our over-populated communities resulted in stimulus-overload, making us feel overwhelmed with all the cues that we must process (Schneider, et al., 2012, p. 279). Because of this enormous amount of new information every day and the he diversity we are exposed to in our communities, we tend to withdraw from social interactions and seclude ourselves into a limited environment. This is the most accurate description of big cities lifestyle and socialization (PSU, WC, Psych 424, lesson 11, 2016).

Because of this big mixture of innovation in our larger communities’ stigma is more popular than ever, and most people tend to have some source of stigma (Bresnahan, & Zhuang, 2016). The American larger communities are formed by people from all over the world, which means there are racial, language, habit and belief differences between most members of the community. Sometimes it can be difficult for some people to interact with one another when their habits and beliefs are very different (Steinberg, 2014). This big diversity is the cause for much of the stigmatization present in our communities. Normally, when people label or judge others they tend to discard or ignore the diversity factor that influences people behaviors (Schneider, et al., 2012, p. 285). The stigma normally originates when people with stigmatized conditions are marked by the public as unacceptable in some ways. Usually their ancestry, ethnicity, religious and cultural habits are left behind by bystanders. Thus, very often negative emotions such as anger and fear are triggered by stigmatized conditions and lead to negative behavioral reactions such as avoidance and rejection of stigmatized individuals (Bresnahan, & Zhuang, 2016).

Not only stigma leads to misperceptions, but it also makes people ignore each other’s needs in an emergency. The bystander effect may be caused by some social stigma and people in larger communities many times fail to provide help to strangers because they are unable to perceive social cues due to stigma (Latané, & Nida, 1981). In many cases, people from large communities have other priorities and a rushed lifestyle, they create social barriers and this make it possible for them to use stigma more frequently (Schneider, et al., 2012, p. 280); when situations involving strangers happen, they often are unware or just fail to give help because they assume others will come to the rescue (Latané, & Nida, 1981).

Many researchers have found that stigma is related to cognitive, affective, and behavioral responses and those can be the explanations for stigma caused by the diversity in large communities. To reduce the stigma existent in those areas, social justice and respect for diversity need to be assessed and taught everywhere; maybe with this type of interventions we might be able to reduce the effects stigma has over people, improving social interactions (Schneider, et al. 2012, p.284). This core value will not terminate stigma completely, but will diminish its’ effects. Maybe the lifestyle in big cities would change a little bit; the formation of smaller interacting groups would help the process to reduce stigma and will help people to develop social copying skills. Community psychology is the field used to implement this source of social interventions (Schneider, et al., 2012, p. 291). When I talk about changing the lifestyle in big cities, I am referring to the fact that the stigma existent now causes much of a social impact, that it results in social inhibition (Latané, & Nida, 1981. P. 309).



Aronson, E., Wilson, T. D., Akert, R. M., & Sommers, S. R. (2016). Social psychology (Ninth ed.). New York: Pearson.

Bresnahan, M., & Zhuang, J. (2016). Detrimental effects of community-based stigma. American Behavioral Scientist, 60(11), 1283-1292. doi:10.1177/0002764216657378. Retrieved from:

Latané, B., & Nida, S. (1981). Ten years of research on group size and helping. Psychological Bulletin, 89(2), 308-324. Retrieved from

Penn State University, World Campus (Fall, 2016). Psych 424: Lesson 11. Retrieved from:

Schneider, F.W., Grumman, J.A., & Coutts, L.M. (2012) Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Steinberg, S. (2014). The long view of the melting pot. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 37(5), 790-794. doi:10.1080/01419870.2013.872282. Retrieved from

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1 comment

  1. Very well said. Stigma definitely contributes to the misconceptions of many groups of people. Over the course of human history, this has always existed. I think this is because human beings tend to be attracted toward people who are most similar to them and in turn, fear the different and unknown. I think the only way to combat this negative impact on our society is through education. Those who are educated tend to show more open-mindedness and the ability to think critically, which gives them realization that learning about others before imposing judgement will actually positively impact society. As education also typically provides exposure to more cultures, one will come to the realization that different perspectives actually enhance the social experience. The world will never be able to rid itself of stigmas completely, but providing quality and affordable education will certainly go far to help it.

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