Sexual identity stress may damage the well-being of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals, but limited research has examined the potential protective factors in this context. The present study addressed this research gap by testing a psychological flexibility model of sexual identity development and positive mental health among LGB individuals. We hypothesized that psychological flexibility would be associated with greater engaged living (i.e., valued living and life fulfillment), which would, in turn, be linked to lower sexual identity stress (i.e., identity uncertainty, acceptance concern, internalized homonegativity, sexuality concealment, and difficult process of identity development) and then better well-being (i.e., emotional, psychological, and social well-being). A total of 401 LGB individuals completed questionnaire measures of psychological flexibility, engaged living, sexual identity stress, and well-being. Structural equation modeling showed that psychological flexibility was related to greater engaged living, which was, in turn, related to lower sexual identity stress and then better well-being. Bootstrap analyses further revealed that psychological flexibility had significant indirect effects on sexual identity stress via engaged living and on well-being via engaged living and sexual identity stress. In addition, multigroup analyses demonstrated that the mediation model held across women and men and across lesbian/gay and bisexual individuals. Theoretically, this study elucidated how psychological flexibility could enable LGB individuals to reduce sexual identity stress and improve well-being through living a valuable and fulfilling life. Practically, this study pointed to the utility of psychological flexibility training in facilitating LGB individuals to develop a positive sexual identity and enhance positive mental health. Copyright © 2021 Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice.
CitationChan, K. K. S., & Yip, C. C. H. (2021). The impact of psychological flexibility on sexual identity stress and well-being among lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 91(5), 660-670. doi: 10.1037/ort0000567
- Psychological flexibility
- Engaged living
- Sexual identity stress
- Bisexual individuals