The Secrets We Tell: The Impact of Motivation and Disposition on Concealable Stigma Disclosure
Foster, Anthony Miles
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Individuals living with concealable stigmas (CSIs; i.e., identities that are not readily discernable by others) must make difficult decisions concerning how, when, and to whom to disclose their identity (e.g., mental illness diagnosis). Previous research investigating interpersonal disclosures of CSIs has shown that antecedent goals, historically representing approach-avoidance motivational systems, have the potential to affect a wide range of psychological, physical, and behavioral outcomes. Recent theorizing, however, suggests that an alternative motivational system, namely the egosystem (i.e., self-image goals) and ecosystem (i.e., compassionate goals) framework, may offer alternative means to promote positive experiences related to CSI disclosure. The current project was multifaceted in its scope. The primary aim was to examine how experimentally manipulated egosystem and ecosystem motivations influence disclosure-related outcomes – specifically individuals’ affective states and willingness to disclose their CSI in the near future. A secondary aim was to examine the role that individual differences in autonomous functioning play in producing psychosocial benefits following written disclosure across these two motivational systems. Ultimately, this project sought to better understand how specific motivational and dispositional factors interact to predict more positive disclosure experiences among individuals living with CSIs. Implications, limitations, and future directions are discussed.