‘Just be yourself ‘may easily be one of the most used sentences when asked for advice. A recent study too that observed people’s productivity, reiterated by saying that revealing your true identity even if it is stigmatized, has a positive effect on one’s work performance. The study examines 65 studies focusing on what happens after people in a workplace disclose a stigmatized identity, such as sexual orientation, mental illness, physical disability, or pregnancy.
However, Eden King, coauthor of the study an associate professor of psychology at Rice University, had a non-conclusive statement about it.
“It has the potential for both positive and negative consequences,” she says.
While the research overwhelmingly indicates that people with no visible stigmas (such as sexual orientation or health problem) that live openly about their stigmas are happier at work and more productive in the workplace. Self-disclosure is typically a positive experience because it allows people to improve connections, form relationships with others, and free their minds of unwanted thoughts, King says.
These workers apparently also experienced decreased job anxiety, role ambiguity, improved job satisfaction, and increased commitment to their position. Outside of work, these people reported decreased psychological stress and increased satisfaction with their lives.
But the study found that the same results did not apply to people with visible traits, such as race, gender, and physical disability.
“Identities that are immediately observable operate differently than those that are concealable,” King says. “The same kinds of difficult decisions about whether or not to disclose the identity—not to mention the questions of to whom, how, when, and where to disclose those identities—are probably less central to their psychological experiences.”
“People react negatively to those who express or call attention to stigmas that are clearly visible to others, such as race or gender, as this may be seen as a form of advocacy or heightened pride in one’s identity,” she says.
The research team hopes the meta-analysis will help workplaces and policymakers protect individuals with stigmas from discrimination.