2016 Theses Doctoral
The Stigma-Related Strengths Model: The Development of Character Strengths among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Individuals
Research concerning lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals has, thus far, largely focused on understanding the many ways in which stigma operates to harm their lives (e.g., Hatzenbuehler, 2011; Meyer, 2003). Conversely, little is known about the potential positive consequences of stigma among LGB individuals, and even less is known about the mechanisms that may facilitate the development of such positive consequences.
Drawing on the distinct, yet related, literatures of minority stress, stress-related growth, character strengths, and well-being, a conceptual model of stigma-related strengths was developed and examined for the purpose of this study. The specific aims of the current study were designed to examine the various components of the stigma-related strengths model. Specifically, this study had six specific aims:
1) To compare self-identified LGB and heterosexual individuals on character strengths.
2) To identify the possible cognitive, affective, and interpersonal (i.e., social) mediators of the relationship between sexual identity (LGB vs. heterosexual) and character strengths.
3) To examine the relationship between perceived interpersonal LGB-related stigma and character strengths among LGB individuals.
4) To identify the possible cognitive, affective, and interpersonal (i.e., social) mediators of the relationship between perceived interpersonal stigma and character strengths among LGB individuals.
5) To investigate which character strengths serve as mediators of the relationship between perceived interpersonal LGB-related stigma and mental health among LGB individuals.
6) To explore which character strengths may mediate the relationship between perceived interpersonal LGB-related stigma and well-being among LGB individuals.
A sample of 718 individuals was recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk to complete an online (i.e., web-based) survey consisting of a set of self-report measures. Of those, 421 (59%) participants self-identified as LGB. In addition to self-identifying as either LGB or heterosexual, eligible participants had to be fluent in English, 18-60 years old, and living in United States.
No significant differences in character strengths were found between LGB and heterosexual participants. Among LGB participants, an inverted U-shaped relationship was found between perceived interpersonal LGB-related stigma and five of the 24 character strengths, namely appreciation of beauty and excellence, curiosity, fairness, honesty, and kindness; these strengths were then referred to as stigma-related strengths among LGB individuals. Conversely, prudence and judgment were found to be negatively and linearly associated with perceived interpersonal LGB-related stigma. Cognitive flexibility mediated the relationship between perceived interpersonal LGB-related stigma and the five stigma-related strengths among LGB participants. Brooding mediated the relationship between perceived interpersonal stigma and both kindness and appreciation of beauty and excellence. Furthermore, suppression was found to mediate the association between perceived interpersonal stigma and kindness. Social support mediated the perceived interpersonal stigma-fairness relation. As for prudence and judgment, only cognitive flexibility was found to mediate their relationship with perceived interpersonal LGB-related stigma among LGB individuals. All five stigma-related strengths, as well as prudence and judgment, mediated the relationship between interpersonal stigma and well-being, whereas only curiosity mediated the relationship between interpersonal stigma and mental distress among LGB individuals.
The findings demonstrate that moderate levels of stigma are associated with character strengths among LGB individuals. Further, findings suggest that interventions addressing LGB individuals’ engagement in cognitive flexibility, brooding, and social support will facilitate the development of their stigma-related strengths, which in turn, promote their well-being.
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More About This Work
- Academic Units
- Sociomedical Sciences
- Thesis Advisors
- Hatzenbuehler, Mark L.
- Ph.D., Columbia University
- Published Here
- September 27, 2016