Impact of the Labeling Theory

Right now, you are a reader.  This label momentarily dictates an action that you are currently fulfilling.  Now, what if that label was not so generic?  You are a thief.  You are a criminal.  These are titles given to countless people every day that have an impact on their actions and mental state.

In the 1960s, a theory was formed with the help of numerous sociologists and named the labeling theory.  This theory defines that the behavior and character of an individual can become influenced and even determined by the labels set in place to describe that individual.  Close cousins with the concept of self-prophecy, an individual is more likely to act out on the label given to them, be it the label of thief, criminal, useless, etc. 

The idea that words are powerful has been proven many times.  It can influence the psyche and define a person. The labeling theory takes a look at the negative connotations of giving someone a title that they then believe to be true.  While maybe a label is not always given in harsh circumstances, the act of being labeled is one that can cause an individual to act out on that label since they now view themselves as being what they have been labeled.

Just like the labeling theory, our own words can impact who we are as a person.  The more we work to produce positivity in our thoughts and actions, the more likely we are to achieve that positive growth.

By Kasey Eister

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