HIV status acknowledgment and stigma reduction in virtual reality: The moderating role of perceivers' attitudes

Henna L. Toppenberg*, Robert A. C. Ruiter, Arjan E. R. Bos

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

HIV-related stigmatization in employee selection procedures may be enacted through discrimination based on an applicant's HIV status. This study (N = 58) investigated to what extent applying an acknowledgment strategy in a job interview setting reduces HIV-related stigma, taking into account the applicants' personal responsibility and the perceivers' attitudes toward people living with HIV (PLWH). In an immersive virtual office, virtual applicants with HIV presented themselves as part of a job application procedure. Using a 2 (acknowledgment versus non-acknowledgment) x 2 (responsible versus not responsible for the onset of the HIV-infection) within-subjects design, we hypothesized that acknowledgment and onset responsibility would yield an interaction effect as well as separate main effects. We predicted that hearing virtual job applicants acknowledging their HIV status triggers higher evaluations, especially when applicants are not held personally responsible for their infection. In addition, we hypothesized that (between-subjects) positive implicit and explicit attitudes independently moderate the relationship between acknowledgment and applicant evaluation. We found that low-onset responsible applicants were more positively evaluated than high-onset responsible applicants (main effect of onset responsibility), F(1, 57) = 4.31, p = 0.04. This effect was irrespective of the applicants' status acknowledgment (no interaction effect). Acknowledgment did, however, produce higher evaluations when participants' explicit attitudes toward PLWH were more positive, F(1, 57) = 7.13, p = 0.01 (moderation effect of explicit attitudes). This study indicates that the more positive the explicit attitudes toward PLWH, the more positive the evaluations when hearing PLWH acknowledging their stigma. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-212
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Social Psychology
Volume49
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019

Keywords

  • DUAL-PROCESS MODEL
  • INTERPERSONAL DISCRIMINATION
  • AVOIDANCE-BEHAVIOR
  • EMPLOYMENT
  • PEOPLE
  • DISCLOSURE
  • PERSPECTIVES
  • INDIVIDUALS
  • INTERVIEW
  • HIV/AIDS

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