The origins of people’s psychological reactions to social stigmas, once defined by noted sociologist Erving Goffman as “a discrediting difference,” will be the focus of a Lawrence University Science Hall Colloquium.
John Pryor, professor of psychology at Illinois State University, shares the latest research on the topic in the address “A Social Cognition Perspective of Stigma” Thursday, May 18 at 4:15 p.m. in Science Hall, Room 102. The event is free and open to the public.
While traditional social reactions to stigmas — drug abuse, cancer, HIV disease, mental illness, obesity and paraplegia, among others — have typically centered around avoidance of the “bearer of the mark,” research has shown people often hold ambivalent feelings about many stigmas, feeling both sympathy and repulsion. Pryor will discuss social cognition research methods that examine how both negative and positive psychological reactions to stigmas can unfold over a matter of just a few seconds. He also will examine implications for anti-stigma interventions.
A Fellow of both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society, Pryor spent six years on the faculty at the University of Notre Dame before joining the psychology department at Illinois State in 1985.
He has published numerous scientific studies regarding stigma in the last 20 years and his research related to HIV disease has been funded by the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Ford Foundation. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Texas, and a master’s and doctorate degree in psychology from Princeton University.