Stigma Expression Outcomes and Boundary Conditions: A Meta-Analysis


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.

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    We also examined the study method (experiment vs. non-experiment) as a moderator but did not find any meaningful differences in our results given that there was a large overlap between study setting and study method.


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Sabat, I.E., Lindsey, A.P., King, E.B. et al. Stigma Expression Outcomes and Boundary Conditions: A Meta-Analysis. J Bus Psychol 35, 171–186 (2020).

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  • Stigma
  • Expression
  • Disclosure
  • Identity management
  • Meta-analysis