Stigma, Avoidant-Orientation, and Self-Disclosure in Friendships
The stigma surrounding mental illness has been shown to have a negative impact on social relationships. However, less research has focused on the mechanisms through which the connection between stigma and relational outcomes can be explained. The primary purpose of the three studies was to evaluate the extent to which chronic and situational forms of stigma and concealment negatively predict disclosure of negative emotions, distress, and personal information through the endorsement of avoidant-oriented motives and goals. In Study 1, cross-sectional methodology was used to evaluate the role of avoidant-orientation as a mediating mechanism through which internalized stigma predicts disclosure of negative emotions and distress to friends. In Study 2, experimental methodology was used to evaluate the extent to which a situational forms of stigma salience affects endorsement of avoidant-oriented friendship goals and self-disclosure within a hypothetical friendship formation scenario. In Study 3, experimental methodology was used to test the effect of avoidant and approach-oriented friendship goals on self-disclosure within the same hypothetical friendship formation scenario. Across the studies, results did not provide evidence for the role of avoidant-orientation as a mechanism through which forms of stigma affect self-disclosure. However, results from Study 1 and Study 2 did provide evidence that concealing mental illness from friends negatively predicts self-disclosure within established and developing friendships.
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