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Differences in psychological distress and esteem based on sexual identity development.

A sample of 791 college students between the ages of 18 and 25 years were administered a series of measures to determine their sexual identity development status, global self-esteem, global psychological distress, sexual-esteem and sexual distress. As hypothesized, results indicated no significant difference in terms of psychological distress, global self-esteem, sexual-esteem or sexual distress between those who identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual and those who identified as heterosexual. As expected, significant differences were observed among participants in relation to sexual identity development status. Specifically, those who were classified as sexual identity achieved scored higher on measures of esteem and lower on measures of distress. Notably, post hoc analyses indicated sexual distress emerged as a stable variable in explaining differences in sexual identity development status. Implications for theory, practice, and research are discussed.

Keywords: LGB, sexual anxiety, sexual esteem, self-esteem, psychological distress


Over the last three decades attention has been directed at understanding sexual minority identity development (e.g., Cass, 1979; Coleman, 1982; Fassinger & Miller, 1996; Rosario, Schrimshaw, Hunter, & Braun, 2006; Troiden, 1989). In contrast, heterosexual identity development has only relatively recently begun to receive attention (Worthington & Mohr, 2002). The attention given to sexual minority identity development while simultaneously neglecting heterosexual identity development has led to uncertainty in understanding the commonalities of sexual identity development (Savin-Williams, 2005).

Research regarding sexual identity development and sexual orientation in relation to psychological wellbeing has produced mixed results. Studies conducted before the 1980s often indicated that lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people were less mentally healthy and more likely to suffer from depression, suicidality, and self-destructive behavior than were heterosexual people (see Savin-Williams, 2005 for a review). More recently, research has shown that while young adults engaged in developing a LGB identity may experience more psychological distress (Bagley & Tremblay, 2000), certain environmental and societal factors, such as parental support and increased visibility of LGB role models (Savin-Williams, 2005) and access to LGB-affirming media (Bond, Hefner, & Drogos, 2009) allow for healthy development that is similar to that experienced by heterosexual youths (Savin-Williams, 2005). To explain these findings, some researchers (Floyd & Stein, 2002; Savin-Williams, 2005; Savin-Williams & Cohen, 2004) have proposed that various "trajectories" exist in development and mental distress is partly based on each individual's developmental trajectory. In other words, individuals engaged in some developmental paths are more prone to distress than those engaged in other paths. For example, Floyd and Stein (2002) reported five developmental trajectories existed for LGB youth and that levels of emotional wellbeing and self-esteem differed by developmental trajectory (Floyd & Stein, 2002). In contrast to assumptions about sexual minority identity development, heterosexual identity development has been assumed to be a unitary and simple process. Little research addresses how heterosexual identity formation affects psychological functioning. While some attention has been given to developmental paths, no research has simultaneously examined the role of sexual identity development status in LGB and heterosexual individuals. In the present study, LGB and heterosexual identity formation are examined in relation to self-esteem and psychological distress.

Theoretical framework for the present study

Focusing and expanding on Erikson's (1956, 1963) concept of identity crisis, Marcia (1966) outlined four stages of ego identity development: identity achievement, identity diffusion, identity moratorium, and identity foreclosure. The two criteria used to determine the stage of identity development for an adolescent are crisis and commitment (Marcia, 1966). During identity formation, individuals at the least engaged stage of identity development are considered diffused while those who have explored and committed to an identity are considered achieved (Marcia, 1966). The combination of an individual's level of exploration and level of commitment to a set of goals, beliefs, and values is used to categorize individuals into one of these four identity statuses.

Similar to Marcia's (1966; 1987) model of Ego Identity Development, Worthington, Savoy, Dillon, and Vemaglia (2002) proposed that heterosexual identity development begins in a state of unexplored commitment. Individuals in this stage have not challenged the "compulsory heterosexuality" that predominates in Western societies (Worthington et al., 2002). Moving from unexplored commitment, people may proceed in one of three directions (similar to how people can move in one of two directions in Marcia's model or three as proposed by Floyd and Stein). Specifically, heterosexual individuals may move into a state of active exploration, deepening and commitment, or diffusion (Worthington et al., 2002).

In the state of active exploration individuals may seriously consider the restrictions placed on possible sexualities and seek to better understand themselves as sexual beings by purposefully exploring their sexual values and engaging in sexual experimentation. Worthington et al. (2002) suggested that this identity status is similar to the moratorium status proposed by Marcia (1987) and that it may correspond to puberty. In the state of deepening and commitment heterosexual individuals accept and move toward integration and understanding of themselves as heterosexual in orientation. The fifth status included in Worthington et al.'s (2002) model is that of synthesis. In synthesis, the individual is conscious and aware of his or her heterosexual attractions, preferences for sexual partners, and has an internal sense of his or her sexual identity. Worthington et al. (2002) described that at this level sexual orientation is no longer relegated but instead seen as intersecting with other important identity statuses (e.g., gender, race, religion). Together, the deepening and commitment and synthesis stages are similar to Marcia's (1966; 1987) description of an achieved identity status. In the state of diffusion, which may have been introduced because of identity crisis (Worthington et al., 2002), active exploration is not present and willingness to further understand sexual identity stagnates. This is similar to Marcia's (1966; 1987) diffusion status. While many heterosexual individuals are likely to move from unexplored commitment to deepening and commitment multiple paths to heterosexual identity development exist. Furthermore, Worthington et al. (2002) posited that there is not a singular path to developing a heterosexual identity and individuals may move between any of the previously described identity statuses as they overcome various challenges or experience a range of events. (See Worthington et al., 2002, for a visual depiction of heterosexual identity formation model and more detailed explanations of each identity status.)

Although Worthington et al. (2002) described a complex model of heterosexual identity development grounded in Marcia's (1987) theory of identity development; no research has emerged that examines how the process of developing a heterosexual identity effects psychological functioning. Research lending support for the model or disconfirmation of the model is limited and little is known about how developing a heterosexual identity differs or corresponds to the development of a sexual minority identity. It remains to be known how the development of a heterosexual identity influences mental health, relationship formation, self-esteem, etc. A thorough review of the literature revealed no study comparing or simultaneously assessing how heterosexual and LGB identity development relates to psychological functioning.

Because of the mixed results reported in the literature related to mental health and LGB identity development in young adult and youth samples, Savin-Williams (2005) has suggested that it is the identity development process and the barriers involved in forming a LGB identity (e.g., lack of parental support and social stigma) and not sexual orientation itself that may account for the mixed findings. Furthermore, because information on heterosexual identity development is in its infancy, it is impossible to confidently conclude that similar problems are or are not experienced by those engaged in developing a heterosexual identity. The current study seeks to address these questions by examining both sexual orientation and sexual identity development in relation to Marcia's (1966) model of identity development.

Marcia (1966) suggested that the status of identity development is likely related to level of self-esteem and proneness to anxiety or psychological distress. In brief, based on previous writings (i.e., Floyd & Stein, 2002; Savin-Williams, 2005; Worthington et al., 2002) it was expected that sexual identity development status, regardless of sexual orientation, would explain many of the differences that have previously been reported in comparative studies between LGB and heterosexual individuals. The goal of current study was to examine college students' global self-esteem, domain-specific (sexual) esteem, global psychological distress, and domain-specific psychological distress (i.e., sexual anxiety) based on sexual identity status and sexual orientation. First, it was hypothesized, based on Marcia's theory, that college students would differ in global self-esteem, sexual-esteem, psychological distress, and sexual anxiety as a function of sexual identity development status. Second, it was hypothesized that college students would not differ in global self-esteem, sexual-esteem, psychological distress, and sexual anxiety as a function of sexual orientation. Third, it was hypothesized that no interaction effect between sexual identity development and sexual orientation would be observed.



Participants self-identified as Gay Men (n = 26), Lesbian Women (n = 24), Bisexual Men (n = 18), Bisexual Women (n = 57), Straight (Heterosexual) Men (n = 144), and Straight (Heterosexual) Women (n = 522). Respondents self-identified as Caucasian/ White (n =698), African American/Black (n = 33), Hispanic/Latina/Latino (n = 20), Native American/American Indian (n = 2), Asian American (n = 14), Biracial/Multiracial (n = 16) and international student/not a U.S. citizen (n = 7). One individual did not report his or her race. The mean age for participants was 22.48 years-old (SD = 1.87) and all participants were between 18 and 25 years-old. The majority or participants (n = 455) reported that they were in a relationship.


IRB approval was obtained from both universities where data collection took place. Campus wide e-mails were sent to students with a link to the electronic survey. Before gaining access to the survey, participants were first given an informed consent statement page that required a response in order to continue participation. The survey was designed in such a way that participants indicated their understanding of basic definitions and instructions for each set of items before completing each section of the survey. Debriefing information was provided immediately after participants submitted their responses. As an incentive to participate, students were given the option to contact the primary investigator to request credit in partial fulfillment of course requirements for pre-specified classes or, alternatively, to participate in a random give away to receive one of four $20.00 gift cards.


Sexual orientation. Participants self-reported their sexual orientation (heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and other). Using a self-report method to assess sexual orientation has two distinct advantages for the proposed study. First, unlike other methods of measuring sexual orientation (e.g., Kinsey-type items; see Kinsey et al., 1953), self-report reflects how the individual identifies without inadvertently misclassifying individuals who are sexually inexperienced with one sex or the other. Second, psychotherapists are likely to rely on self-reported sexual orientation when working with clients and therefore the analysis, which relies partially on participant sexual orientation, will more accurately reflect the counseling setting and therefore increase the utility of the results of the proposed study.

Sexual identity development status. Participants were categorized into four groups based on each participant's highest status score on the Measure of Sexual Identity Exploration and Commitment (MoSIEC; Worthington, Navarro, Savoy, & Hampton, 2008), a 22-item measure that assesses sexual identity development. Each of the MoSIEC items is rated on a 6-point Likert-type scale (1 = very uncharacteristic of me; 6 = very characteristic of me; Worthington & Reynolds, 2009). Four of the items were reverse scored. The MoSIEC uses four subscales that are conceptually driven by Marcia's (1966) four phases of identity development. These subscales are: Commitment Exploration, Sexual Orientation Identity Uncertainty, and Synthesis/Integration (Worthington et al., 2008). Subscale scores are calculated by averaging the response values associated with each subscale. If an item associated with a subscale is missing, the remaining items can still be averaged to obtain a subscale score. This method ensures that scores can be computed and are comparable when a limited amount of data is missing (R. L. Worthington, personal communication, February 23, 2009). The MoSIEC can be used with individuals of all sexual orientations. In this study, evidence of internal consistency reliability was found for the MoSEIC ([alpha] = 0.77, M = 82.45, SD = 11.91) total score; and for the Exploration ([alpha] = 0.88, M= 27.03, SD = 8.97), Commitment ([alpha] = 0.80, M = 27.58, SD = 5.26), Synthesis ([alpha] = 0.74, M = 23.02, SD = 4.00), and Uncertainty ([alpha] = 0.87, M = 4.82, SD = 2.74) subscales.

Psychological distress. Psychological distress has been defined as functioning that is "unpleasant and upsetting to the individual" (Comer, 1995, p. 3). Psychological distress was measured using the Outcome Questionnaire-45 (OQ-45; Lambert et al., 1996) and was treated as a continuous dependent variable. The OQ-45 consists of 45 items that can be used to calculate three subscales (symptom distress, interpersonal relations, and social role) or an overall score (Lambert et al., 1996). In this study, the OQ-45 was found to have high internal reliability (a = 0.94, M = 103.58, SD = 23.26).

Global self-esteem. Global self-esteem has been defined as "an overall positive or negative attitude toward the self' (Rosenberg & Rosenberg, 1978, p. 280). Self-esteem was treated as a continuous dependent variable. The 10-item Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES; Rosenberg, 1965), the most widely used measure of global self-esteem, was used to assess this construct. For the current study, the internal consistency reliability of the RSES was found to be acceptable ([alpha] = 0.79, M= 30.68, SD - 4.40).

Domain-specific sexual-esteem and sexual anxiety. Sexual anxiety has been "defined as the tendency to feel tension, discomfort, and anxiety about the sexual aspects of one's life" (Snell, 1998, p. 521). Sexual-esteem has been "defined as the motivation and desire to be involved in a sexual relationship" (Snell, 1998, p. 521). Both sexual-anxiety and sexual-esteem were measured using Rostosky, Dekhtyar, Cupp, and Anderman's (2008) revision of The Multidimensional Sexual Self-Concept Questionnaire (Snell, 1998); subscale scores were treated as continuous variables. In the current investigation, both the 8-item Sexual Esteem scale ([alpha] = 0.92, M= 29.28, SD = 7.02) and the 8-item Sexual Anxiety scale ([alpha] = 0.90, M = 17.60, SD = 7.21) were found to be reliable.

Demographic information. Eleven items regarding demographic information were included in the survey. Participants were asked to indicate their sexual orientation. Sexual orientation was treated as a two-level categorical independent variable (sexual minority/LGB vs. heterosexual/straight). Participants also reported their sex, which was treated as a two-level categorical independent variable (male vs. female). Those who identified as transgender were excluded from the data analyses. In order to be able to describe the sample further, participants also reported their race/ethnicity, age, education level, and relationship status.

Data analyses

A 2 X 4 (Sexual Orientation X Sexual Identity Status) MANOVA was conducted in order to test the three hypotheses related to these variables and the dependent variables of global self-esteem, sexual-esteem, global psychological distress, and sexual anxiety. In addition to MANOVA, Discriminant Function Analysis was conducted as a second step. DFA was selected over the traditional univariate analysis of variance (ANOVA) tests because it allows for the removal of groups that fail to provide additional explanation beyond those already included in the function and because the underlying statistics between MANOVA and DFA are more parsimonious (DFA is the reverse of MANOVA) than the underlying statistics between MANOVA and ANOVA. DFA also accounts for covariance among variables; thereby removing the overlapping contributions among separate variables.


A series of one-way analysis of variance tests (with Bonferonni correction of p = 0.0125) were conducted to identify possible gender differences in relation to the constructs of interest (global self-esteem, sexual-esteem, psychological distress, and sexual distress). Specifically, these preliminary analyses were conducted in order to determine if both genders could be combined due to a lack of significant differences. Results indicated that women (M= 29.64, SD = 6.62) reported significantly higher levels of sexual-esteem than did men (M = 28.13, SD = 7.11) F (1, 789) = 6.78, p = 0.009. No significant gender differences were observed for global esteem F (1, 789) = 2.02, p = 0.156 (women: M = 30.56, SD = 4.52; men: M= 31.08, SD = 3.99), global distress F(1, 789) = 1.24, p = 0.275 (women: M = 104.16, SD = 23.62; men: M = 101.74, SD = 22.03), or sexual distress F (1, 789) = 0.82, p = 0.367 (women: M = 17.47, SD = 7.06; men: A/= 18.01, SD = 7.68). Although a significant gender difference was observed for sexual-esteem, because of the lack of significant difference on all of the other dependent variables and because separate analyses may have resulted in failing to detect the nuances related to identity development (Lewis, 2003) it was determined that analysis should be conducted with data being analyzed without regard to participants' self-reported gender.

Three hypotheses were tested using a 2 X 4, Sexual Orientation (LGB = 1, heterosexual = 2) X Sexual Identity Development Status (exploration = 1, commitment = 2, synthesis = 3, moratorium = 4), multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA). The first hypothesis was that college students would differ in global self-esteem, sexual-esteem, psychological distress, and sexual distress as a function of sexual identity development status. The second hypothesis stated college students would not differ in global self-esteem, sexual-esteem, psychological distress, and sexual anxiety as a function of sexual orientation. The third hypothesis stated no interaction effect would be observed between sexual identity development and sexual orientation.

Results of Box's M test indicated the assumption of homogeneity of variance was met in this investigation (Box's M = 94.303, p = 0.025). Results from the MANOVA revealed a significant multivariate main effect for sexual identity development status (SIDS) Wilks' [lambda] = .907, F (12, 2068.978) = 6.485, p < 0.001, partial eta squared = .032. Power to detect the effect was 1.000. Although this finding supports the first hypothesis, the interaction accounts for only about 3% of the variance, suggesting other unobserved variables are likely important to consider in future research. A significant main effect was not observed for sexual orientation Wilks' X = .996, F (4, 780.000) = 0.742, p =.563, partial eta squared = .004. This finding supports the second hypothesis. Similarly, no significant interaction effect was found for SIDS and sexual orientation; Wilks' [lambda] = .987, F (12, 2068.978) = 0.842, p = 0.607, partial eta squared = .004. This indicates that SIDS did not interact with sexual orientation to affect the dependent variables in this study which supports the third hypothesis.

Discriminant Function Analysis (DFA) was conducted to identify how the dependent variables differed as a function of SIDS. This is especially important in this study because of the moderate correlations found between global and domain-specific measures of distress and esteem (see Table 1). As recommended by Tabachnick and Fidell (2001), an a priori minimum cutoff for the structure value was set at 0.320 and was used to determine significance. Review of Table 2 indicates that the first discriminant function (way of grouping or splitting variables) was significant, Wilks' [lambda] = 0.858, p < 0.001, df= 12, and explained 89.17% of the variance with a canonical correlation of 0.360. The structure matrix indicated that, in order of importance, sexual distress, global psychological distress, sexual-esteem, and global self-esteem, were all correlated with the discriminant function above the cutoff value. The second discriminant function was also significant, Wilks' [lambda] = 0.982, p = 0.030, df = 6, and explained 10.70% of the variance with a canonical correlation of 0.133. In the second discriminant function, only sexual distress had a structure value greater than the cutoff. It is important to note that the negative structure value for sexual distress in the second function does not indicate directionality due to the fact that the other variables within the function were nonsignificant. Instead, the significant absolute value indicates the importance of sexual distress as an explanative factor above and beyond the other variables. Specifically, together, the first and second functions indicate that sexual distress is the most important variable of those included in this analysis in understanding SIDS. The third discriminant function was not significant, Wilks' X = 1.000, p = 0.922, df = 2, and explained 0.12% of the variance with a canonical correlation of 0.014. This suggests that the change in the dependent variables is significantly different between sexual identity development status groups and that all four dependent variables contributed to the group differences.

Those in the commitment status reported the highest levels of global esteem (M = 31.411) and sexual-esteem (M =30.330) and the lowest levels of sexual distress (M = 15.834) and psychological distress (M = 100.284) of any sexual identity development status. Conversely, those in the moratorium status reported the highest levels of sexual distress (M = 27.375) and psychological distress (M= 128.625) and the lowest levels of sexual-esteem (M = 21.174) and global self-esteem (M = 26.875). Those in the exploration and synthesis statuses fell between those in the moratorium status and synthesis status. Participants in the synthesis status reported higher levels of both sexual-esteem and global self-esteem and lower levels of both sexual distress and psychological distress than those in the exploration status. Together, these findings suggest that those in the commitment status experienced the lowest levels of distress and highest levels of esteem, followed by those in the synthesis status, exploration status, and moratorium status, respectively.

Because of the small number of participants in the moratorium status (n = 8), a second set of analyses omitting those participants was conducted to determine whether the exclusion of those in the moratorium status altered findings. Results of the MANOVA again revealed a significant multivariate main effect for SIDS Wilks' [lambda] = 0.922, F (8, 1548.000) = 8.132, p < 0.001, partial eta squared = .040. A significant main effect was not observed for sexual orientation Wilks' [lambda] = 0.847, F (4, 774.000) = 0.347, p = 0.850, partial eta squared = .002. Similarly, no significant interaction effect was found for SIDS and sexual orientation Wilks' [lambda] = 0.494, F (4, 1548.00) = 0.927, p = 0.521, partial eta squared = .005. Results from this second MANOVA were almost identical to those observed in the original MANOVA analysis, which indicates that the exclusion of those in the moratorium status did not alter findings.

Posthoc DFA findings for were also similar to those reported for the previous analysis, providing further evidence that the exclusion of the moratorium group did not alter findings in the present study.


The purpose of this study was to explore how sexual identity development status was related to psychological functioning. While college students differed significantly in levels of global and domain-specific distress and esteem based on sexual identity status, they did not differ significantly based on sexual orientation. Furthermore, no interaction effect was observed between sexual orientation and sexual identity development status in relation to the constructs of interest. Because of the small number of participants who could be classified as being in the moratorium status, those in that group were dropped from a second set of analyses. Results from those analyses confirmed the findings of the first set of analyses. It was also observed that domain-specific and global measures of constructs were moderately correlated; however, it was determined that while the two levels of either distress or esteem were related, they were not the same. These findings have significant implications for theory, practice, and research.

Implications for Theory

Marcia (1966) theorized that psychological distress and esteem fluctuated throughout the identity development process. Although Marcia specifically addressed ideological and occupational identity development, recent research (e.g., Worthington & Reynolds, 2009; Worthington et al., 2002) has extrapolated Marcia's (1966) Ego Identity Development theory to the realm of sexual identity development. Findings from the present study support that such extrapolation may be well-founded. Specifically, phenomena observed in this study are consistent with Marcia's position that psychological distress and esteem fluctuate across changes in identity development status. Furthermore, Arnett (2000) posited that identity development may continue throughout emerging adulthood (ages 18 to 25 years) stage of development. Because Arnett suggested that this stage of development continued considerably longer than what Erickson (1963; 1968) had initially proposed, the findings from this study are relevant in considering the merit of this proposition.

While results from the current study cannot address other domains of identity development, the results do suggest that sexual identity development continues throughout the emerging adulthood stage proposed by Arnett (2000). Specifically, participants' scores on the MoSEIC indicated that many individuals had yet to actualize a sexual identity and were still involved in exploring and committing to their sexual identities. Notably, few individuals were classified as being in the moratorium status of sexual identity development. This suggests that a more nuanced view of sexual identity development is needed while simultaneously supporting Worthington et al.'s (2002) position that moratorium status

may occur primarily during puberty Simply put, Marcia's model provides a framework from which various domains of identity development, including sexual identity development, can be understood. Therefore, the extrapolation of Marcia's model to the domain of sexual identity development moves the field toward a unified theory of sexual identity development and has important practice implications..

Implications for Practice

Practitioners may better serve their clients by considering how domain-specific and global levels of distress and esteem may simultaneously be affected through the psychotherapy process. Practitioners may observe signs of sexual distress or low sexual-esteem that are related to sexual identity development status. Such signs may include questioning sexual values, feelings of discomfort discussing issues of sexuality, feelings of anxiety surrounding discussions of sexuality, or uncertainty in clients' understanding of themselves as sexual beings. Based on findings in this study, addressing such concerns in psychotherapy may improve clients' overall functioning while aiding in the sexual identity development process.

In general, therapists may be more likely to attend to sexual identity status when working with sexual minority clients than when working with heterosexual clients. In some cases, client distress is related to the process of developing a sexual minority identity. However, heterosexual clients may have similar concerns regarding sexual values and understanding. Individuals' identity development statuses, and not individuals' sexual orientations, were related to distress and esteem. Thus, therapists are encouraged to consider sexual identity development when working with any adolescents or young adults, regardless of sexual orientation, so as not to overlook this important process as it applies to LGB and heterosexual youth. Psychologists should focus on increasing clients' comfort with their own sexual values, behaviors, and exploration. Psychologists should never attempt to alter clients' sexual orientations (APA Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation, 2009).

Examples of techniques that psychologists may find useful in psychotherapy with clients who are struggling with sexual distress or sexual-esteem include working with clients to clarify values; helping clients develop increased comfort discussing issues of sexuality through normalization of the sexual identity development process; exploring with clients how sexuality fits into their broader understanding of themselves; and explaining to clients how domain-specific distress and esteem may relate to overall functioning. These approaches may be useful in addressing psychic discomfort and improving overall functioning. This may be especially important when working with clients who present with concerns related to sexuality or sexual intimacy. Clinicians are reminded that moving toward an achieved sexual identity status may accompany decreases in distress while simultaneously accompanying increases in esteem among their clients.

When working with young adults who identify as LGB, clinicians should consider whether their clients' distress may be related to the sexual identity development process rather than clients' sexual orientation. Therapists are encouraged to be sensitive to the possibility that previously observed differences in mental health between groups of people who claim different sexual orientations may be better explained by sexual identity development status, rather than the explanation that distress is innate for members of sexual minority groups. Such information could be useful in working with clients of all sexual orientations.

Directions for Future Research

Findings indicated that differences were not related to sexual orientation, or to an interaction of sexual orientation and sexual identity development status. The differences were related to sexual identity status alone. Further research is needed to clarify findings by examining whether sexual identity development occurs along the same chronological time line for LGB and heterosexual individuals. Findings from the present study also highlight the need for future research to consider sexual identity development status in relation to a variety of psychological constructs.

The lack of significant differences between those who identified as LGB versus heterosexual supports the position that similarities among college students, regardless of sexual orientation, may provide important information about development in general. Researchers examining college student development may need to consider identity development status as being at least a important as sexual orientation when formulating future research.

Dustin Shepler

Michigan School of Professional Psychology

Kristin Perrone-McGovern

Ball State University


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Table 1. Two tailed Pearson's r for four sexual identity
development statuses (SIDS)

                          1             2             3

1. SIDS               1.00
2. Orientation        0.176 (++)
3. Psych Distress    -0.126 (++)   -0.128 (++)
4. Sexual Distress   -0.070 *      -0.118 (+)     0.486 (++)
5. Self-Esteem        0.021         0.101 (+)    -0.672 (++)
6. Sexual Esteem      0.099 (+)     0.103 (+)    -0.443 (++)

                          4            5

2. Orientation
3. Psych Distress
4. Sexual Distress
5. Self-Esteem       -0.386 (++)
6. Sexual Esteem     -0.502 (++)   0.470 (++)

* p [less than or equal to] 0.050, (+) p < 0.005 level, (++) p < 0.000

SIDS = sexual identity development status,
Orientation = GLB or heterosexual

Table 2. Structure matrix values for four
sexual identity development statuses

                    Discriminant Function

                    1        2        3

Sexual Esteem     -0.699    0.035   0.562
Sexual Distress    0.877   -0.361   0.148
Global Esteem     -0.568    0.226   0.327
Global Distress    0.751    0.263   0.223
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Author:Shepler, Dustin; Perrone-McGovern, Kristin
Publication:College Student Journal
Article Type:Report
Date:Dec 1, 2016
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