Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Stacey L. Williams

Committee Members

Ginni C. Blackhart, Matthew McBee


Sexual minority individuals suffer stigmatization which often predicts negative mental health outcomes and low self-esteem. However, specific dimensions of identity have been shown to buffer against negative outcomes in racial minorities and other stigmatized groups. Yet, limited research has examined identity as a buffer for sexual minorities. This thesis aimed to explore the moderating role of identity characteristics between sexual stigma and mental health outcomes. Findings in a sample of 209 gays, lesbians, and bisexuals suggested that public stigma, centrality, and private regard predict psychological distress. Private regard also emerged as a predictor of self-esteem. Additionally, centrality and public stigma interacted such that those who reported higher centrality of sexual minority identity did not report decrements to self-esteem in the face of public stigma to the extent as those who reported lower centrality. These findings suggest centrality and private regard are key factors in the psychological well-being of sexual minorities.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.

Included in

Psychology Commons