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Social Identity Devaluation: The Consumption of Stigma Inducing Products

Presented by: Corky Mitchell, Texas Tech University

This research explores stigma related to consumption activities and the effects this stigma has on consumers’ social identities. Stigmatized-identity cues have focused on stigmatized groups (e.g., racial minorities, women, LGBT+, disabled). Here stigmatized-identity cues are expanded to include threat and safety cues relevant to consumption activities. Interviews of consumers of recreational cannabis are used to explore what threat and safety cues exist for this product and how these influence the consumers’ social identities and subsequent behavior. Data reveals the existence of stigmatized-identity threat and safety cues for consumers exist in this context. Consumes’ self and reflected appraisals of their social identity tied to cannabis use informed their subsequent behaviors of hiding product use and not sharing about recreational cannabis through word of mouth.

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