Date of Award

January 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling Psychology & Community Services

First Advisor

David H. Whitcomb


The current study was designed with the aim of increasing the understanding of

how concealing or disclosing a stigmatized sexual identity to a perceived accepting/non- accepting person affects ego depletion. Ego Depletion, (Baumeister, 1998) refers to the idea that certain tasks exhaust a limited pool of cognitive resources. Previous literature has explored how concealing a stigmatized identity is ego depleting; however, an examination of the relationship between ego depletion and the concealment of the specific identity as a sexual minority has not yet been explored. LGBQ individuals are often faced with the challenge of navigating social situations to determine if they are comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation. The present study sought to address gaps in the literature on LGBQ coming out (concealing and disclosing sexual orientation), and more specifically, using an experimental design, this study explored how the exposure to accepting or non-accepting attitudes affected psychological functioning (ego depletion) and anxiety. Participants (N = 144) completed an online survey during which they were presented with a scenario in which a fictional partner had an accepting versus non- accepting attitude. LGBQ participants chose to conceal or disclose their sexual identity, and then completed a measure of ego depletion. Statistical analysis showed a statistically significant interaction between the Acceptance (positive-accepting attitudes versus negative-non-accepting attitudes) and Conceal/Disclose Group (Choice Disclose versus Choice Conceal versus Instructed Concealing). The results of this study have significant implications for the LGBQ community as a whole, and the profound clinical implications as well as potential areas of future research are discussed.