Thinking of how you think of me: working cancer survivors' metaperceptions of competence and why they matter


Psychological Science

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Purpose: Cancer-related stigma is a troubling challenge faced by working cancer survivors and organizations aiming to promote inclusive work environments. Research suggests that a harmful stereotype faced by cancer survivors is that the cancer survivors are low in competence. Leveraging the concept of the looking glass self and social cognitive theory, the authors develop a theoretical model about psychological processes through which cancer survivors' competence metaperceptions are related to work outcomes. Design/methodology/approach: The authors recruited 200 working cancer survivors from online research panels and empirically test a theoretical model on how cancer survivors' metaperceptions of competence are related to the survivors' turnover intention and vigor at work. The authors additionally conducted an experimental vignette study among a sample of 133 students to examine confounds concerning causal order. Findings: The authors found that favorable competence metaperceptions were related to decreased turnover intentions and increased vigor through cancer survivors' enhanced self-efficacy, especially for survivors high in need for emotional support. Practical implications: This study suggests that inclusive organizations should pay attention to employees with cancer histories as a hidden disadvantaged group. To protect and motivate working cancer survivors, managers need to create a positive socio-cognitive working environment where cancer survivors are respected and valued. Originality/value: By examining cancer survivors' metaperceptions and showing that survivors may internalize others' stereotype about individuals with a history of cancer, the authors advance the understanding about cancer survivors' return-to-work challenges.

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Journal of Managerial Psychology

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