Abortion as stigma: Cognitive and emotional implications of concealment

Brenda Major, Richard H. Gramzow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

308 Scopus citations


This study examined the stigma of abortion and psychological implications of concealment among 442 women followed for 2 years from the day of their abortion. As predicted, women who felt stigmatized by abortion were more likely to feel a need to keep it a secret from family and friends. Secrecy was related positively to suppressing thoughts of the abortion and negatively to disclosing abortion-related emotions to others. Greater thought suppression was associated with experiencing more intrusive thoughts of the abortion. Both suppression and intrusive thoughts, in turn, were positively related to increases in psychological distress over time. Emotional disclosure moderated the association between intrusive thoughts and distress. Disclosure was associated with decreases in distress among women experiencing intrusive thoughts of their abortion, but was unrelated to distress among women not experiencing intrusive thoughts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)735-745
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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