Stigma Expression Outcomes and Boundary Conditions: A Meta-Analysis

  • Isaac E. SabatEmail author
  • Alex P. Lindsey
  • Eden B. King
  • Carolyn Winslow
  • Kristen P. Jones
  • Ashley Membere
  • Nicholas A. Smith
Original Paper


The decision to express a stigmatized identity inside and outside of the workplace is highly complex, with the potential for both negative and positive outcomes. This meta-analysis examines the intrapersonal and interpersonal workplace and non-workplace outcomes of engaging in this identity management strategy. Synthesizing stigma and relationship formation theories, we hypothesize and test boundary conditions for these relationships including the visibility and controllability of the stigma, the study setting, and the gender of the interaction partner. Through our analysis of 65 unique samples (k = 108), we find that expression is more likely to lead to beneficial outcomes in interpersonal, workplace, and non-workplace domains, but only for less-visible stigmas and for studies conducted within a field vs. lab setting. Finally, we explore stigma expression across specific stigmatized identities and determine that there are consistently positive outcomes of expression for individuals with stigmatized religious and sexual orientation identities.


Stigma Expression Disclosure Identity management Meta-analysis 


Supplementary material

10869_2018_9608_MOESM1_ESM.docx (396 kb)
Supplementary Table 3 (DOCX 395 kb)


References marked with an asterisk indicate studies included in the meta-analysis

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  2. 2.Department of ManagementUniversity of MemphisMemphisUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyRice UniversityHoustonUSA
  4. 4.School of Public HealthUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  6. 6.Department of PsychologyPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA

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