Reducing stigma associated with a hearing impairment: the effectiveness of the acknowledgment of a disability as a compensatory strategy.
Franzese, Carmela (2010) Reducing stigma associated with a hearing impairment: the effectiveness of the acknowledgment of a disability as a compensatory strategy. [Tesi di dottorato] (Inedito)
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The nature of discrimination has been changing - over the past few decades – loosing its usual overt shapes (see Gaertner & Dovidio, 1986; McConahay, 1983; Swim, Aikin, Hall, & Hunter, 1995). According to Deitch et al. (2003), negative attitudes and discrimination are still persistent occurrences for members of stigmatized groups, even though they have turned into more subtle and interpersonal expressions (Frazer & Wiersma, 2001; Hebl, Foster, Mannix, & Dovidio, 2002; Hebl, King, Glick, Singletary, & Kazama, 2007; Heilman, Martell, & Simon, 1988). Thus, it is important to examine strategies that might reduce or avoid the display of such biases, because the effects of discrimination (e.g., formal, interpersonal) influence both persons who belong to stigmatized groups (e.g., lower self-esteem, avoidance of frustrating interactions, isolation, distress, depression) and non-stigmatized individuals (e.g., difficulties in interactions, frustration, tension). The goal of the present research was to understand normal-hearing listeners’ emotional responses to the speech of hearing impaired individuals, and examine the extent to which these stigmatized persons themselves are able to reduce negative emotions felt by able people while listening to them, by acknowledging their disability and showing an accepting, positive outlook with respect to their impairment and the personal and social difficulties that they have to face in they everyday life. Hearing impaired individuals, unlike individuals who are deaf, do receive limited auditory feedback. Because they are limited in their ability to hear—even when they use hearing aids or cochlear implants—they develop a unique style of oral communication, which is different from that of either normal-hearing or deaf individuals’ (Gérard et al., 2010). The speech style of the hearing impaired may lead to problems in communication, such as non-normative style of speaking, difficulty in understanding other people and in being understood (Mackenzie & Smith, 2009). As a result, they face social and personal challenges that can affect their psychological well-being as well as social life, which are distinct from the challenges faced by deaf individuals. It is important to note that we do not believe that stigmatized persons should be only responsible for thwart the discrimination they experience in their everyday life; instead, social policies should also take such responsibility. As such, they may benefit interpersonally and socially from engaging in compensatory strategies (see Branscombe, Schmitt, & Harvey, 1999; Kessler, Mickelson, & Williams, 1999). Our research represents an important contribution to the study of the intergroup bias which involves hearing impaired individuals as part of the normal-hearing community, that is a largely under researched field in Social Psychology. Moreover, it is the first time – to our knowledge – that a research focuses specifically on the study of the emotional reactions evoked by the speech of individuals with a partial hearing loss: this is a sensorial disability, which is deeply different – in terms of ability to hear, language development, communication difficulties, group identity, and social inclusion issues – from deafness. Finally, along with the clear importance of using specific compensatory strategies in order to reduce negative responses in normal hearing persons, findings of this study spread a light on the fact that more research is needed in this field. Thus, future investigations might inform interventions aimed to reduce tension and facilitate positive interactions between normal hearing persons and hearing impaired individuals, since an inclusive culture is more likely to develop when discrimination, in all of its forms, ceases to exist (Human Rights Campaign Foundation, 2004).
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