Date Approved

6-17-2009

Date Posted

9-17-2013

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Committee Member

Silvia von Kluge, PhD, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Norman Gordon, PhD

Committee Member

Stephen Jefferson, PhD

Committee Member

Amy Young, PhD

Abstract

Covering, a construct that has been absent from the empirical psychological literature, is the pressure to or act of downplaying characteristics associated with a stigmatized identity (Goffman, 1963). This research investigated the covering demand in lesbian-identified women drawing on four related literatures: acculturation, discrimination, stigma, and self-concealment. The objectives of this research were to examine the impact of structural, legal covering demands on psychological domains and develop a grounded understanding of these demands in lesbian women. A mixed-method approach was utilized. Forty-six lesbian-identified women recruited from community venues participated in the quasi-experiment and focus groups, and five also engaged in follow-up in depth interviews. The results showed that the covering demand affects emotional reactions in these lesbian women and that they adopt multiple strategies for coping with these demands in everyday life. These findings provide initial support for the conceptualization of the covering demand as a potential everyday, minority stressor.

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