Autonomy Support for Conflictual and Stigmatized Identities: Effects on Ownership and Psychological Health

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid

Abstract

Important others’ perceptions influence self-perceptions. This presents a challenge for the critical developmental task of integrating all aspects of identity, as identities that are devalued or stigmatized by society are harder to own than valued ones. Across 3 studies, we tested the idea that conflictual or stigmatized identities are harder to own, or integrate into the self, than are nonconflictual ones, and we examine how receiving autonomy support for an identity—support for authentic identity exploration and expression—can facilitate ownership of that identity. Cross-sectional (n = 543), experience-sampling (n = 66), and experimental methods (n = 209) tested the dynamics of autonomy-supportive others on identity ownership. Data from these studies converge to show that conflictual identities are indeed harder to own than nonconflictual ones, but that autonomy support predicts greater ownership and psychological health, especially for conflictual identities. In the final study, we replicate these dynamics in 3 identities stigmatized by society: sexual minority, ethnic minority, and gender minority identities. Findings reveal the importance of integrating all aspects of identity—particularly those that are conflictual or stigmatized—into one’s self-concept. We consider implications for counseling and clinical practice, as well as broadly for the psychological health of stigmatized individuals.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles