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Frontiers in Psychology






Stigmatization associated with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is expected to be a complex issue and to extend into the later phases of the pandemic, which impairs social cohesion and relevant individuals' well-being. Identifying contributing factors and learning their roles in the stigmatization process may help tackle the problem. This study quantitatively assessed the severity of stigmatization against three different groups of people: people from major COVID-19 outbreak sites, those who had been quarantined, and healthcare workers; explored the factors associated with stigmatization within the frameworks of self-categorization theory and core social motives; and proposed solutions to resolve stigma. The cross-sectional online survey was carried out between April 21 and May 7, 2020, using a convenience sample, which yielded 1,388 valid responses. Employing data analysis methods like multivariate linear regression and moderation analysis, this study yields some main findings: (1) those from major COVID-19 outbreak sites received the highest level of stigma; (2) factors most closely associated with stigmatization, in descending order, are objectification and epidemic proximity in an autonomic aspect and fear of contracting COVID-19 in a controllable aspect; and (3) superordinate categorization is a buffering moderator in objectification-stigmatization relationship. These findings are important for further understanding COVID-19-related stigma, and they can be utilized to develop strategies to fight against relevant discrimination and bias. Specifically, reinforcing superordinate categorization by cultivating common in-group identity, such as volunteering and donating for containment of the pandemic, could reduce objectification and, thus, alleviate stigma.


© 2021 Chen, Jin, Zhang, Zhang, Dong and Chen. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

Original Publication Citation

Chen, Y., Jin, J., Zhang, X., Zhang, Q., Dong, W., & Chen, C. (2021). Reducing objectification could tackle stigma in the COVID-19 pandemic: Evidence from China. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, Article 664422, 1-13.