College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

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stigma, disclosure, identity, concealable stigma, predictors to disclosure


This study tested a model of the antecedents to disclosure of an invisible stigmatized identity. The antecedents to disclosure included characteristics of the specific stigma, individual level factors, environmental factors, and perceived consequences of disclosure. Four invisible stigmatized identity types were selected: mental health problems, learning disability, low social class background, and lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB). A total of 254 undergraduate college students completed an on-line survey including questions about the disclosure of their identities and the various proposed predictors to disclosure. The best fitting models included the identity combined model, the mental illness only model, and the LGB only model. Centrality to identity, presence of similar others, and perceived consequences were significant predictors to disclosure. It was determined that individuals with mental health problems had the lowest rates of disclosure overall compared to the other three identity types. Overall, participants had higher rates of disclosure outside the school setting compared to disclosure at school. Participants who reported having two identities were more likely to report psychological symptoms than individuals with only one identity.