Examining Differences in Anxiety Symptoms Based on Sexual Orientation

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The present study examined levels of anxiety symptoms based on self-identified sexual orientation, and identity-related constructs among gays and lesbians. This study was unique because it examined the roles of identity and stigma simultaneously in determining anxiety levels among gays and lesbians. Multiple identity constructs (public and private regard) and stigma (public and self) have played a significant role in determining anxiety levels in ethnic minorities, but these have not been examined to the same extent among gays and lesbians. Public stigma refers to the view of society about the individual for being a member of the stigmatized group, while self-stigma is the personal view of themselves for being a member of the group. Public regard is the view of society on the group as a whole and private regard refers to the personal view of the stigmatized group. In order to test study hypotheses, secondary data analysis was conducted on a sample of participants who completed an online survey entitled “Study of Attitudes about Sexual Orientation” and who self- identified as homosexual or heterosexual. Participants were recruited from a southeastern university and the study was also open to non-students, community members, and the public at large via widespread advertisement online. College student participants were offered modest course credit for their participation in the study. Results indicated that homosexuals reported higher levels of public stigma (t (1376) = -37.992, p < .01) and increased self-stigma (R2 = .219 F (3, 156) = 14.569, p < .001) in relation to increased public stigma and decreased public regard. The findings of the study support the idea that public perceptions about sexual orientation impact homosexuals’ self views. Stigma interventions should focus not only on reducing negative public regard about homosexuality, but also intervene to reduce the impact of public views on the self.


Johnson City, TN

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