Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Stacey Williams

Committee Members

Ginni Blackhart, Matt McBee, Chris Dula, Phyllis Thompson


Lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals must regularly navigate stigma, or social situations in which they are devalued because of their sexual orientation. The research has well established minority stress processes which link situations of stigma to reports of poor psychological well-being. However, protective factors leading to healthy psychological well-being are relatively understudied. This dissertation is a review of protective factors that have already emerged in the research and an assessment of these protective factors simultaneously to better understand how they influence psychological well-being. I recruited adult sexual minority participants using a comprehensive social media approach. I then tested mastery, problem-solving coping, cognitive flexibility, structural factors, social support, self-compassion, hope, community connectedness, meaning making, and emotional openness on both measurements of positive and negative psychological well-being. Boosted regression analyses were used to assess the relative influence of the protective factors and while accounting for multicollinearity among the many protective factors. This was followed by OLS regression for cross validation. Results of the boosted regression trees indicate that hope, mastery, self-compassion, and social support are the most influential protective factors. This was supported by the OLS regressions. These results point to individual and social factors that affect psychological well-being of sexual minorities. Ultimately this dissertation provides a focused target for future research on intervention using these top protective factors. Additionally, this dissertation expands protective factors previously only examined in lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals to a broader sexual minority population.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.