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Perceiver’s Perspective of the Discovery of Concealment: Understanding the Other Side of Disclosure

  • Author(s): Olanubi, Gbolahan
  • Advisor(s): Neuberg, Steven
  • Johnson, Kerri
  • et al.
Abstract

Concealment is a strategy often used by people with stigmatizing characteristics as a means to protect themselves from discrimination and mistreatment by others. Previous research has focused on the perspective of the concealers and has identified the many costs and consequences of concealment, but fewer researchers have focused on how people actually respond when concealment is discovered and the concealed characteristic becomes known by others. Though concealers are concerned that they might be stigmatized, little is known about how perceivers actually respond to such revelations. Drawing on the deception and prejudice literatures, this research proposes a model that highlights two factors shaping downstream responses to discovered concealment—trust and emotions. The first experiment examines how these factors affect perceiver’s response to stigmatizing and

non-stigmatizing characteristics. The second experiment examines how the concealer’s motives for concealment may moderate how perceivers respond upon discovery. The third experiment examines how the social closeness between perceiver and concealer affects how perceivers respond. Taken together, these experiments find that concealment, and not disclosure of a stigmatizing characteristic, undermines the perceiver’s relationship with the concealer.

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