Same-sex Sexuality and Adolescent Psychological Well-being: The Influence of Sexual Orientation, Early Reports of Same-sex Attraction, and Gender

Justin Jager, Pamela E. Davis-Kean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Emerging research has shown that those of sexual-minority (SM) status (i.e., those exhibiting same-sex sexuality) report lower levels of psychological well-being. This study aimed to assess whether this relation is largely in place by the onset of adolescence, as it is for other social statuses, or whether it continues to emerge over the adolescent years, a period when SM youth face numerous challenges. Moreover, the moderating influence of sexual orientation (identification), early (versus later) reports of same-sex attractions, and gender were also examined. Using data from Add Health, multiple-group latent growth curve analyses were conducted to examine growth patterns in depressive affect and self-esteem. Results suggested that psychological well-being disparities between SM and non-SM were generally in place by early adolescence. For many, the remainder of adolescence was a recovery period when disparities narrowed over time. Early and stable reporting of same-sex attractions was associated with a greater initial deficit in psychological well-being, especially among males, but it was also associated with more rapid recovery. Independent of the timing and stability of reported same-sex attractions over time, actual sexual orientation largely failed to moderate the relation between SM status and psychological well-being. Importantly, the sizable yet understudied subgroup that identified as heterosexual but reported same-sex attractions appeared to be at substantial risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-444
Number of pages28
JournalSelf and Identity
Volume10
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

    Fingerprint

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Developmental timing
  • Psychological well-being
  • Same-sex sexuality
  • Sexual orientation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

Cite this