The stigmatized and the nonstigmatized may disagree about the justifiability of negative outcomes based on stigma. Our own research ( Major & Crocker, in prep.), for example, has shown that women think that being female interferes less with doing a number of jobs than do males. The women also believe it is less justifiable and less legitimate to deny a woman a job on the basis of her gender than male subjects do. These disagreements about the justifiability of negative outcomes based on stigma may be an important contributor to social conflict between the stigmatized and the nonstigmatized.
Finally, our analysis also has implications for the justifiability of positive outcomes based on a stigma. We argue elsewhere ( Crocker et al., 1991; Major & Crocker, in press) that members of stigmatized groups sometimes receive positive outcomes because of their group membership. For example, some social programs and policies, such as affirmative action, are designed to overcome past histories of discrimination against certain groups. We suggest that reactions to those programs, by both the beneficiaries of those programs and other disinterested individuals, depends heavily on their perceived justifiability. A growing literature on responses to preferential selection suggests that both the beneficiaries of affirmative-action programs and observers have strong negative reactions to these programs, presumably because they believe such treatment is not justified by membership in a social category ( Taylor & Dube, 1986). We argue that responses to a variety of programs intended to benefit members of stigmatized groups could be better understood by considering the conditions under which such programs are considered justifiable.
Preparation of this chapter was supported by NSF grant BNS 9010487.
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