TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN? ASSESSING THE DISTINCTNESS OF STIGMA CONCEALMENT AND DISCLOSURE PROCESSES
Jackson, Skyler D
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Past scholarship is divided regarding whether stigma concealment and disclosure represent a unidimensional construct. This study used an online survey to investigate the distinctness of these stigma management processes among 298 sexual minority undergraduate and graduate students. The association demonstrated between stigma concealment and disclosure in this investigation suggests that they are related but ultimately distinct aspects of identity management. This finding was reinforced by numerous cases in which these stigma management variables uniquely predicted factors of psychological health (depression and life satisfaction) or aspects of identity adjustment (self-stigma, acceptance concerns, membership esteem, and identity strength). Additionally, as compared to stigma disclosure, stigma concealment was found to be a better predictor of both factors of psychological health and one aspect of identity adjustment (acceptance concerns). The implications of these results are discussed in light of literature on individuals with indiscernible stigmatized identities and may inform clinical practice and future research.