Blend in or stand out? Interpersonal outcomes of managing concealable stigmas at work.

In the workplace, employees must choose what personal information they share with others. Employees with concealable stigmas (e.g., sexual orientation, mental illness, and certain religious beliefs) face the added pressure of having to carefully manage information about a potential social liability. Yet it remains unclear how managing a concealable stigma may influence colleagues’ perceptions and reactions. Using theory about impression management and social cognition, we investigated how employees strategically manage information about their concealable stigmas and the impact of these behaviors on colleague reactions. Based on a multiple-time, multiple-source study of 196 employees, we compared 4 specific strategies for managing concealable stigmas: assimilating, decategorizing, integrating, and confirming. Consistent with our theorizing, these strategies had unique effects in how they influenced the treatment that an employee received from others. These findings have implications for research about stigmas, social cognition, and impression management, as well as for practices focused on creating diverse and supportive work environments. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)