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Young Adults' Stigmatizing Perceptions About Individuals with Skin Cancer

Unfavorable perceptions of individuals with skin cancer are attributed to the potential cause, cancer metaphors, and gender, according to a recent study published in Psychology & Health.

“This study examined the influence of three potential predictors of [stigmatizing] cancer perceptions: the controllability of the cancer cause, metaphors used to describe the cancer experience, and the target's gender,” explained the study authors.

Researchers recruited 306 undergraduates to read a fictitious post about a patient with skin cancer and the potential causes for their cancer.

When the patient attributed skin cancer to their lifestyle rather than genetics, participants showed more blame, less sympathy, and less favorable perceptions of character towards the patient.

“[Stigmatization] of individuals with skin cancer may depend on the potential cause of cancer, and to some extent, metaphors and gender,” concluded the study authors.

Bowers JM, Nosek S, Moyer A. Young adults' stigmatizing perceptions about individuals with skin cancer: the influence of potential cancer cause, cancer metaphors, and gender. Psychol Health.
Published online January 6, 2021. doi:10.1080/08870446.2020.1869738

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