People like me don’t belong here: Concealing a stigmatized identity is associated with negative workplace experiences
Journal of Social Issues
© 2017 The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
Reason for embargo
In two studies, we examined the impact of concealing (vs. revealing) a stigmatized identity in the context of a recalled or imagined social interaction with one’s coworkers. We propose that although people may choose to conceal stigmatized identities in order to increase their chances of acceptance and belonging, identity concealment in fact reduces feelings of belonging and results in negative work-related outcomes. Participants possessing a concealable stigmatized identity (in Study 1: LGB identity, N=95; in Study 2, LGBT identity, history of mental illness, history of physical illness, or history of poverty, N=303) were randomly assigned to recall or imagine concealing or revealing their identity at work. We found that concealing (vs. revealing) the identity reduced felt belonging in the recalled or imagined situation, collective self-esteem, job satisfaction, and work-related commitment. Thus, despite its promise to protect individuals against workplace discrimination, identity concealment is associated with deleterious outcomes.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Wiley via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 73, Iss. 2, June 2017, pp. 341–358