Perceived Stigma of Poverty and Depression: Examination of Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Mediators

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This study examines the perceived stigma of poverty by assessing individuals' negative feelings about being poor (internalized stigma), and their beliefs about whether others treat them as stigmatized (experienced stigma). In a combined sample of low-income women (N = 210), we tested a dual-pathway model to explain how these perceived stigma dimensions are related to depression among the impoverished. We proposed that interpersonal (i.e., impaired support availability and heightened fear of support request rejection) and infrapersonal factors (i.e., impaired self-esteem) differentially mediate the relationship of internalized and experienced poverty stigma with depression. Structural equation modeling partially supported the model: internalized stigma and depression were partially mediated by self-esteem and fear of rejection, while experienced stigma was related to depression through fear of rejection only. In other words, internalized and experienced perceived stigma activate separate and similar mechanisms to influence depression among the poor.