Sex Roles

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 27–35 | Cite as

Pregnancy: A social stigma?

  • Shelley E. Taylor
  • Ellen J. Langer


Experimental evidence is presented which explores the social stimulus value of pregnancy. It was found that, for men especially, the pregnant woman elicits avoidance and staring and that these responses occur primarily because pregnancy is a novel visual stimulus. For women, avoidance seems to be tied less to the stimulus aspects of the pregnant woman than to role expectations about her behavior. The pregnant woman is expected to be passive, but is simultaneously rejected for being so. It is argued that this constellation of responses may produce discomfort and withdrawal in the pregnant woman herself, since avoidance and staring are easily interpreted as negative reactions. How these reactions fit into the cultural response to pregnancy is discussed.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shelley E. Taylor
    • 1
  • Ellen J. Langer
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Social Relations, William James HallHarvard UniversityCambridge
  2. 2.Graduate CenterCity University of New YorkUSA

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