Goffman’s seminal work identified social stigma as severe disapproval of a person on the grounds of characteristics they have that tend to distinguish them from other members of the society in which they live.
The researchers in this study were interested in the perception of stigma in 43 adults with learning disabilities and the nature of the relationship between this perception and their psychological well-being, they were also interested to look at whether the process of social comparison had any moderating effect on this relationship.
The 43 participants all completed three self-report measures of perception of stigma, self-esteem and social comparison.
The authors found that perception of stigma significantly related to negative social comparisons. This in turn was also significantly related to low self-esteem.
They found no difference between social comparisons made with other service users and those made with people in the community.
Their hypothesis that social comparison may have a moderating effect on the relationship between stigma and self-esteem.was not proved.
They conclude from this small study that their findings support the idea that the perception of stigma and social comparison does have influence on the self-concept of individuals with learning disabilities.
Stigma, Social Comparison and Self-Esteem in Adults with an Intellectual Disability, Paterson, L et al., in Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 25: 166–176.