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Can public versus private disclosure cause greater psychological symptom reduction?

Macready, D. E., Cheung, R. M. ORCID:, Kelly, A. E. and Wang, L. (2011) Can public versus private disclosure cause greater psychological symptom reduction? Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 30 (10). pp. 1015-1042. ISSN 0736-7236

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1521/jscp.2011.30.10.1015


Three studies examined the effects of disclosure in a social context. In 2 longitudinal experiments (N = 65 and N = 48), undergraduates wrote nonanonymous personal life stories and then were told that their stories either would or would not be read by their classmates. Both experiments revealed that participants in the public, as compared to private, disclosure condition experienced significantly greater self-reported psychological symptom reduction in the weeks following the writing. The second experiment showed that this effect was completely mediated by a reduction in self-reported anxiety and negative emotions surrounding the written disclosure. A third study (N = 354) showed that disclosing personal topics more publicly was significantly correlated with fewer psychological symptoms. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that the benefits of written disclosure can be magnified if the disclosure is public, as opposed to private, because of the accompanying reduction in negative affect surrounding the public disclosure.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
ID Code:107977
Publisher:Guilford Publications

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