Date

2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Counseling Psychology

First Adviser

Caskie, Grace I. L.

Other advisers/committee members

DeBlaere, Cirleen; Hojnoski, Robin L.; Gillem, Angela R.

Abstract

Accumulating research suggests a link between heterosexist and internalized heterosexism with mental health (e.g., psychological distress and self-esteem) in diverse samples of sexual minority individuals (Swim, Johnson, & Pearson, 2009; Szymanski, 2005; Talley & Bettencourt, 2011). Researchers posit that, similar to their L/G counterparts, discrimination (i.e., biphobia) from both L/G and heterosexual communities make bisexual individuals susceptible to poorer mental health as well (Ochs, 1996). Although these direct links are important, equally significant, are the intervening variables in these links. Coping has been a suggested an important mediator to investigate in the relation between discrimination and mental health. Based on the literature reviewed, the current study investigated a model that tested direct and indirect relations among perceived anti-bisexual experiences, internalized biphobia, active and avoidant coping, psychological distress, and self-esteem. Structural equation modeling indicated that (a) external anti-bisexual discriminatory experiences in heterosexual community were related to greater psychological distress and lower self-esteem; (b) internalized biphobia was related to greater distress and lower self-esteem, (c) active coping partially mediated the links between internalized biphobia and self-esteem, and (d) avoidant coping partially mediated the links between anti-bisexual experiences and mental health and the links between internalized biphobia and mental health. Also, based on preliminary theoretical and empirical literature suggesting potential differences between sexual minority women's and men's experiences (e.g., Szymanski, 2005), gender differences were explored and no statistical differences were found.

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