Implicit stigmatization-related biases in individuals with skin conditions and their significant others

S. van Beugen, J. Maas, A.I.M. van Laarhoven, T.E. Galesloot, M. Rinck, E. S. Becker, A.E.M. Evers, C.M. van de Kerkhof, Henriet van Middendorp

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13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: 
Stigmatization is common in people with chronic skin conditions and may also affect their significant others (SOs). The fast and implicit processing of stigmatization-related stimuli has received little attention in these populations; however, such knowledge may offer indications for new treatment methods. This study aimed to investigate implicit processing of stigmatization-related stimuli in people with skin conditions and their SOs. 
Method: 
A modified Stroop task and 2 approach-avoidance tasks were administered to participants with chronic skin conditions (alopecia: n = 50 and psoriasis: n = 50); their significant others (alopecia SOs: n = 47 and psoriasis SOs: n = 50); and controls (n = 50). The aim was to examine attentional and behavioral biases toward disease-related and social threat-related stigmatization stimuli. 
Results: 
An attentional bias to disease-related stimuli was found in participants with alopecia and their SOs, compared with controls (p < .001). This effect was not found for participants with psoriasis and their SOs. Increased behavioral avoidance of disgusted faces was found in participants with psoriasis and their SOs, compared with controls (p = .047). This effect was not found in participants with alopecia and their SOs. 
Conclusions: 
These results provide support for the idea that individuals with skin conditions and their SOs are characterized by a stigmatization-related stimulus bias regarding implicit cognitive and behavioral reactions, in comparison to healthy individuals. Furthermore, preliminary results suggest that these processes may differ across skin conditions, with people with psoriasis being more affected by social reactions (i.e., disgusted faces) and people with alopecia by disease-related cues possibly related to internalized self-stigma
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)861-865
JournalHealth Psychology
Volume35
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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    van Beugen, S., Maas, J., van Laarhoven, A. I. M., Galesloot, T. E., Rinck, M., Becker, E. S., Evers, A. E. M., van de Kerkhof, C. M., & van Middendorp, H. (2016). Implicit stigmatization-related biases in individuals with skin conditions and their significant others. Health Psychology, 35(8), 861-865. https://doi.org/10.1037/hea0000404