Rings, Jeffrey A.
Cardona, Vilma (Betty)
Hutchinson, Susan R.
Applied Psychology and Counselor Education Program of Counseling Psychology
University of Northern Colorado
Type of Resources
Place of Publication
University of Northern Colorado
Perceived belongingness has demonstrated significant positive effects on psychological distress levels. Various other demographic and psychological constructs including sexual orientation, ethnicity, socioeconomic status (SES), self-esteem, and outness level also have been found in past literature to have significant relationships with psychological distress levels. Because sexual minority individuals are at increased risk for psychological distress, the purpose of this study was to assess the role belongingness played in psychological distress among lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) university students after already accounting for these other variables through a hierarchical regression analysis. Due to the nature of hierarchical regression analysis, the effects of all variables on psychological distress (i.e., sexual orientation, ethnicity, SES, self-esteem, and outness level) were also analyzed independently. Additionally, a moderating effect of sexual orientation on the relationship between perceived belongingness and psychological distress was assessed. Results from 132 LGB students showed that the combined effect of sexual orientation, ethnicity, and SES (entered at Step 1 of the hierarchical regression analysis) on psychological distress was non-significant (R2 = .038, p = .285). Outness level and self-esteem were entered at Step 2 of the regression analysis and explained a significant additional portion of the variance in psychological distress levels (ΔR2 = .392, p < .001) mainly due to the effect of self-esteem because outness level was found to be a non-significant construct. Perceived belongingness accounted for an additional significant portion of psychological distress variance when entered at Step 3 (ΔR2 = .052, p = .001). With all of the variables in the model, 48.8% of psychological distress variance was accounted for among the sample. Sexual orientation did not moderate the relationship between perceived belongingness and psychological distress. Self-esteem and perceived belongingness are important protective factors against psychological distress among sexual minority students, so more research refining our understanding of how these constructs combat psychological distress is merited. Specifically, research implications are discussed suggesting how future research can expand upon the current findings to better understand the results. Clinical implications are discussed emphasizing the importance of self-esteem and perceived belongingness as a way to combat psychological distress among LGB university students. These implications include some ideas that counseling psychologists can use to strengthen these constructs for clients. Theoretical implications are also discussed showcasing how the research findings fit into Meyer’s Minority Stress Theory, the theoretical framework used to guide the current research.
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