I Tell or You Tell: The Intersection Between Stigmas and Disclosure
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The purpose of the present study was to investigate the interaction between disclosure of potentially stigmatizing information and the controllability of the stigma. A study was conducted with 298 participants (228 women, 70 men); participants were undergraduate students from a large public university. An experiment was conducted in order to measure the interaction between disclosure and the controllability of the stigma. The present study predicted that self disclosures about an uncontrollable stigma would be rated the most likeable, where as controllable stigmas revealed by another would be rated the least likeable. Past research (Hebl and Kleck, 2002) has shown that uncontrollable stigmas were perceived more favorably than controllable stigmas. Additionally, previous research (Hastorf et. al, 1979) indicates that uncontrollable stigmas are rated more favorably if the stigmatized acknowledges the stigma. Furthermore, Ward and Brenner (2006) contend that acknowledgement of a stigma can negate negative feelings, whereas acknowledgement of a stigma by a third party actually exacerbates the negative rating of the stigma. Therefore, the present study investigated participants’ opinions of the hireability of an applicant. Participants were presented with one of four conditions and asked to rate the overall applicant’s hireability. Contrary to the hypothesis, no interaction was found. Though, there was a significant mean difference in the uncontrolled category for success potential, hireability, and likeability. These findings suggest that, at least for uncontrolled disabilities, disclosing the disability can be seen as a positive and works to put others at ease as to the condition of the disabled individual.