Centrality and Private Regard as Key Factors Predicting Psychological Distress and Self-Esteem in Sexual Minorities

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Sexual minority individuals (lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals) suffer from stigmatization, or minority stress, which often predicts negative mental health outcomes and low self-esteem. However, specific dimensions of identity (e.g., centrality and regard) may buffer against these negative outcomes in racial minorities and other stigmatized groups, including sexual minorities. Indeed, research in other stigmatized populations has found evidence for the protective properties of identity. Yet, limited research has examined dimensions of identity that buffer or protect sexual minorities. This study aimed to explore the moderating role of identity characteristics in the relation between sexual stigma and mental health outcomes. Findings in a sample of 209 gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals suggested that public stigma, centrality, and private regard predict psychological distress, but did not support a moderation model. Private regard emerged as a predictor of self-esteem as well. Additionally, centrality and public stigma interacted in such a way that those who reported higher centrality of sexual orientation identity did not report decrements to self-esteem in the face of public stigma to the same extent as those who reported lower centrality of sexual orientation identity. All of these suggest centrality and private regard as key factors in the psychological well-being of sexual minorities and should further be explored.


New York, NY

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