Influence of the Social Context on Use of Surgical-Lengthening and Group-Empowering Coping Strategies Among People With Dwarfism

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Objective: To assess the role that social contextual factors exert on the way people with disproportionate short stature (dwarfism) cope with the negative consequences of discrimination. Method: Using multigroup structural equation modeling, we compare the coping process of people with dwarfism from Spain (N = 63) and the USA (N = 145), two countries that differ in the role played by organizations offering support to people with dwarfism. Results: In Spain, where organizational support is recent, a coping approach aimed at achieving integration with the majority group through limb-lengthening surgery prevails; in the USA, where the long-standing organization of people with dwarfism encourages pride in being a “little person” and positive intragroup contact, a coping strategy based on empowering the minority group dominates. Conclusions: Both strategies, each in its own context, are effective at protecting psychological well-being from the negative consequences of stigmatization; however, they exert their positive effects through different processes.

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