Yale University

How does stigma "get under the skin"?: the mediating role of emotion regulation.

TitleHow does stigma "get under the skin"?: the mediating role of emotion regulation.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsHatzenbuehler, Mark L., Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, and John Dovidio
JournalPsychological science
Date Published2009 Oct
KeywordsAdult, African Americans, Emotions, Female, Homosexuality, Humans, Internal-External Control, Male, Mental Recall, Social Isolation, Social Support, Stereotyping, Stress, Psychological, Truth Disclosure, Young Adult
AbstractStigma is a risk factor for mental health problems, but few studies have considered how stigma leads to psychological distress. The present research examined whether specific emotion-regulation strategies account for the stigma-distress association. In an experience-sampling study, rumination and suppression occurred more on days when stigma-related stressors were reported than on days when these stressors were not reported, and rumination mediated the relationship between stigma-related stress and psychological distress. The effect of social support on distress was moderated by the concealability of the stigma: Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) respondents reported more isolation and less social support than African American respondents subsequent to experiencing stigma-related stressors, whereas African Americans reported greater social support than LGB participants. Social isolation mediated the stigma-distress association among LGB respondents. In a second experimental study, participants who ruminated following the recall of an autobiographical discrimination event exhibited prolonged distress on both implicit and explicit measures relative to participants who distracted themselves; this finding provides support for a causal role of rumination in the stigma-distress relationship.
Alternate JournalPsychol Sci

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