Discreditable: Stigma effects of revealing a mental illness history on test performance

  • Quinn D
  • Kahng S
  • Crocker J
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In three studies, the authors examined the effect of revealing a concealable social stigma--mental illness--on intellectual performance. It was hypothesized that revealing this deeply discrediting stigma would result in performance decrements. College students either with or without a history of mental illness (MI) treatment participated. In Study 1, the type of mental illness was left unselected. In Study 2, only participants who reported a history of depression participated. In Study 3, a comparison group of participants with a history of eating disorder were included. Results showed that the MI participants who revealed their history did worse on the reasoning test than did those in the no reveal condition. There was a trend in the opposite direction for participants with no MI. As predicted, revealing a narrower stigma, eating disorder, did not affect performance. The results are discussed in terms of identity threat and concealable stigmas.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Eating disorders
  • Identity threat
  • Mental illness
  • Stereotype threat
  • Stigma

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  • Diane M. Quinn

  • Sang Kyoung Kahng

  • Jennifer Crocker

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