Abstract

We present a theoretical model of reappropriation — taking possession of a slur previously used exclusively by dominant groups to reinforce another group's lesser status. Ten experiments tested this model and established a reciprocal relationship between power and self-labeling with a derogatory group term. We first investigated precursors to self-labeling: Group, but not individual, power increased participants' willingness to label themselves with a derogatory term for their group. We then examined the consequences of such self-labeling for both the self and observers. Self-labelers felt more powerful after self-labeling, and observers perceived them and their group as more powerful. Finally, these labels were evaluated less negatively after self-labeling, and this attenuation of stigma was mediated by perceived power. These effects occurred only for derogatory terms (e.g., queer, bitch), and not for descriptive (e.g., woman) or majority-group (e.g., straight) labels. These results suggest that self-labeling with a derogatory label can weaken the label's stigmatizing force.

Authors
Adam Galinsky, C.S. Wang, J. Whitson, Eric M. Anicich, K. Hugenberg, and G. Bodenhausen
Format
Journal Article
Publication Date
Journal
Psychological Science

Full Citation

Galinsky, Adam, C.S. Wang, J. Whitson, Eric M. Anicich, K. Hugenberg, and G. Bodenhausen
. “The reappropriation of stigmatizing labels: The reciprocal relationship between power and self-labeling.”
Psychological Science
vol.
24
, (October 01, 2013):
2020
-
2029
.