Coping Style as Mediator of Same-sex Attraction-Related Differences in Psychological Adjustment in Dutch Adolescents

[Speaker] Bos, Henny:1
[Co-author] Van Beusekom, Gabriel:1, Sandfort, Theo:2
1:University of Amsterdam (Netherlands), 2:Columbia University (United States of America)

This study examined whether feelings of same-sex attraction (SSA) in adolescents were associated with psychological distress and whether this relation was mediated by coping styles (confrontation, social support, reassuring thoughts, expression of emotion, avoidance, palliative and passive reaction). Data were collected from 1,546 high school students (802 boys and 744 girls; M age = 13.57 years). SSA was significantly associated with psychological distress: Adolescents with higher scores on SSA scored higher on psychological distress. SSA was positively correlated with passive reaction as a coping style but not with any other coping style, and psychological distress was negatively associated with confrontation and positively with expression of emotions, avoidance, palliative, and passive reactions. Passive reaction mediated the association between SSA and psychological distress. The findings suggest that in understanding and addressing mental health disparities between sexual minorities and heterosexual youth attention should be paid to intrapersonal psychological factors such as coping styles.
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