The study revealed that being forced to keep information concealed, such as one's sexual orientation, disrupts the concealer's basic skills and abilities, including intellectual acuity, physical strength, and interpersonal grace - skills critical to workplace success.
Clayton R. Critcher, assistant professor at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, said that the findings stem from the difficulty of having to constantly monitor one's speech for secret-revealing content that needs to be edited out.
The researchers conducted four studies, each of which was a variation on a single paradigm. When participants arrived at the study, they learned they would be taking part in an interview. Following a rigged drawing, all participants learned they were assigned to be an interviewee. Another supposed participant-who, in reality, was an actor hired by the experimenter-was the interviewer.
Some participants were given special instructions about what they could reveal in the interview. In three of the four studies, some participants were told they should make sure not to reveal their sexual orientation while answering the questions.
After the interview, participants thought they were moving on to an unrelated study. In actuality, this second part of the experiment was related, offering researchers the opportunity to measure whether participants' intellectual, physical, or interpersonal skills were degraded by concealment.
In one study, participants completed a measure of spatial intelligence that was modeled after items on military aptitude tests. Participants randomly assigned to conceal their sexual orientation performed 17 percent worse than those who went through the interview without instructions to conceal. In another experiment, participants tasked with hiding their sexual orientation exhibited reduced physical stamina, only able to squeeze an exercise handgrip for 20 percent less time than those in a control condition.
The study has been published in Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.
--ANI (Posted on 12-10-2013)