Stigma is perhaps best thought of as a process. Individuals have certain social attributes that others can view to varying degrees. For example, we can often guess someone’s race or gender by viewing them in person, seeing their name in print, or hearing recordings of their voice. Other attributes, like where a person lives or what college they went to, are revealed less often and only in certain contexts. These attributes are then compared to the other possible attributes within that same category; in our society, there are different races, genders, colleges to attend, and so on. These differences matter because they evoke particular stereotypes and are embedded in hierarchies. Decades of research across many different fields have shown how it is advantageous to be ...

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