Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Spring 5-10-2011

Major Department or Program



Wally Herbranson


The present study aimed to quantify relationships between internal and external identity management and well-being in individuals with two types of invisible disabilities: learning disabilities and a history of mental health problems. Participants were 111 college students (ages 18-52; 64% women) recruited via email lists who self-identified as having an invisible disability. Participants completed surveys measuring levels of internal identification with disability, outness about the disability, self-esteem, and self-determination. Correlational analysis revealed significant relationships between dis-identification with disability and both self-esteem and self-determination in students with invisible disabilities (p < .001, p = .006, respectively). The results highlight the stigmatizing effects of diagnostic labels for students with invisible disabilities and the need for a multidimensional scale to measure identification with disability.

Page Count


Subject Headings

Identity (Philosophical concept), Identity (Psychology), Mental illness -- Mental Health Problems, Learning disabilities -- Social aspects, Disabilities -- Invisible, People with disabilities, Stigma (Social psychology), Self-esteem, Autonomy (Psychology) -- Self-determination (Psychology), Beatrice Ann Posner Wright (1917- ), Social sciences, Whitman College -- Dissertation collection 2011 -- Psychology Department

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Public Accessible Thesis

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