Culture and Concealable Stigmatized Identities: Examining Anticipated Stigma in the United States and Turkey

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Previous work shows that people with concealable stigmatized identities are at risk for heightened psychological distress (depression and anxiety), and one predictor for increased distress is greater anticipated stigma. Anticipated stigma is the concern that 1 will receive disparagement and poor treatment from others if the stigmatized identity becomes known. Stigma is socially constructed and thus the anticipation and experience of stigma is likely to differ across cultures in which relational ties differ. In the current work, we examined anticipated stigma and psychological distress with Turkish (N = 147) and American (N = 197) individuals with concealable stigmatized identities. The Turkish culture is rated higher in collectivism than the American culture and thus people with concealable stigmatized identities may be more concerned about others’ evaluations of them than people living in the more individualistic American culture. Results show that both Turkish and American participants with higher anticipated stigma experienced more anxiety and depression, replicating earlier work. In addition, Turkish individuals experienced higher mean levels of anticipated stigma and depression than their American counterparts. The effects of culture on depression were partially mediated by anticipated stigma. Thus, the relationship between anticipated stigma and psychological distress is replicable but may also be exacerbated or attenuated by cultural factors.

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