Date of Award

4-22-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Thesis

Department

Sociology

Abstract

Past research has shown that people tend to conceal some aspects of their status (e.g., HIV positive diagnosis, homosexual orientation) because they fear that they will be stigmatized (Chaudoir, 2009), however little to no research exists regarding the divulgence of beliefs that may be stigmatized (e.g., belief in Bigfoot, ghosts, unconventional religious beliefs). My thesis extends research on concealable stigmatized status to research on stigmatized beliefs, by examining the degree to which people’s feelings about disclosure of stigmatized beliefs are impacted by anticipated responses from other people. I investigated this issue by asking participants to write about either a conventional or an unconventional belief that they held, and then imagining a response by a confidant that was either supportive or unsupportive. The dependent variables measured the participant’s perceptions of their belief, how they relate to others socially with their belief, and their anticipated affective state after their confidant reacted to their belief. It was found that participants’ perceptions of the acceptability and the commonality of the belief were greater for conventional beliefs. In addition, participants expected their willingness to share their belief, as well as their experience of positive emotions to increase when the confidant reacted supportively to their belief.

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