The Impact of Criminal Record Stigma on Quality of Life: A Mediation Model


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Across multiple stigmatized groups, research suggests that stigma may negatively impact individual wellbeing. Empirical evidence suggests this occurs through a sequential pathway that includes perceiving societal stigma, a diminished and stereotyped self-concept (i.e. internalized stigma), experiences of discrimination and rejection, and attempts to cope with stigma (e.g., secrecy or withdrawal). No study has evaluated a model representing this sequence in relation to criminal record stigma. This study utilized cross-sectional data from an online survey of 198 adults to evaluate the pathways by which criminal record-related stigma impacts individual quality of life. The results indicated that perceived stigma is predictive of discrimination and rejection experiences, secrecy coping strategies, and decreased quality of life. A significant indirect association between perceived stigma and quality of life through secrecy coping was also detected. Consistent with recent criminal record stigma research, internalized stigma was low among respondents. Theoretical and intervention implications are discussed.