The psychological implications of concealing a stigma: a cognitive-affective-behavioral model

Psychol Bull. 2007 Mar;133(2):328-45. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.133.2.328.


Many assume that individuals with a hidden stigma escape the difficulties faced by individuals with a visible stigma. However, recent research has shown that individuals with a concealable stigma also face considerable stressors and psychological challenges. The ambiguity of social situations combined with the threat of potential discovery makes possessing a concealable stigma a difficult predicament for many individuals. The increasing amount of research on concealable stigmas necessitates a cohesive model for integrating relevant findings. This article offers a cognitive-affective-behavioral process model for understanding the psychological implications of concealing a stigma. It ends with discussion of potential points of intervention in the model as well as potential future routes for investigation of the model.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjustment Disorders / epidemiology
  • Affect*
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Life Change Events
  • Self Concept
  • Social Behavior*
  • Stereotyping*
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Truth Disclosure