Ethnic identity concealment and disclosure: Contexts and strategies

Anna Dobai, Nick Hopkins (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
131 Downloads (Pure)


Ethnic minority group members’ responses to their prejudicial treatment can take several forms. One involves identity concealment (e.g., ‘passing’). In order to understand such a response, we must explore participants’ understandings of the interactional context before them, their meta-perceptions of the identity others ascribe to them, and the varied meanings that identity concealment/non-disclosure may have in that context. Our analysis of interview data (N = 30) obtained with Roma in Hungary reveals diverse forms of, and motivations for, the concealment of their Roma identity. Some participants reported examples of proactive identity concealment, others reported more reactive forms (in which they went along with others’ mistaken assumptions concerning their identity). The motivations for identity concealment (whether proactive or reactive) included the desire to: secure material benefits; avoid conflict; take pleasure from seeing others’ assumptions blinding them to the reality before them; test (and expose) majority group members’ attitudes; allow themselves opportunities to experience the world in new ways. Our analysis highlights the importance of social identity researchers recognizing the diverse motivations for ethnic identity concealment: From the actors’ perspective concealment is not always assimilatory, and in some contexts can be experienced as empowering.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)790-807
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number3
Early online date7 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


  • Roma
  • covering
  • identity disclosure
  • interaction management
  • negotiating prejudice
  • passing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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