Concealable Stigmatized Identity Disclosure as a Possible Perturbation to Complex Social Systems

AbstractInterpersonal coordination is essential for successful cooperative action. Beyond synchronized joint action to achieve a goal such as moving furniture, humans tend to spontaneously coordinate movement in everyday action (i.e., coordinated limb movement during walking). Furthermore, these actions are said to arise from the interaction dominant dynamics between agents and foment cooperative behavior. As such, existing research demonstrates that closer affiliation is associated with entrainment of physiological signals including heart beat and rhythmic limb movement. Considering the role social stigmatization plays in disrupting social interaction, the present research investigated the impact of concealable stigma disclosure (depression diagnosis or bisexual identity)—as a perturbation to a nonlinear dynamical system—on interpersonal coordination and affiliation. Study 1 results demonstrate that depression disclosure may lead to more social distancing in a collision avoidance walking task compared to bisexual and neutral disclosures. In study 2, interaction improved affiliation regardless of disclosure type.

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