Date of Award

2005

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

School

School of Psychology and Social Sciences

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Eyal Gringart

Second Advisor

Lisbeth Pike

Abstract

Research into the psychological health of members of sexual minorities has been biased towards a medical model of illness and several methodological difficulties need to be considered to critically interpret findings in this area. This review presents relevant literature on sexual minority stressors, positive coping by sexual minority members, and the mixed findings of between-groups comparative research. The medical model bias is evident in an analysis of the measures of psychological health used in research involving sexual minorities. The thesis of considering psychological health of sexual minorities from the broader perspective that includes both well-being and pathology, and of using a positive psychology focus on well-being and competence, is discussed. The increased use of substantial measures of wellbeing, including psychological well-being, is encouraged. Psychological health research involving sexual minorities is biased towards a medical model perspective and measures. This exploratory study uses a positive psychological perspective on gay male and lesbian psychological health. The Scales of Psychological Well-Being (SPWB) (Ryff, 1989; Ryff & Keyes, 1995) were used with a sample of Australian metropolitan adults comprising heterosexual males (n = 43), gay males (n = 59), heterosexual females (n = 58) and lesbians (n = 55). Significant differences on SPWB were related to gender and not to sexual orientation, with females scoring higher than males for positive relations, environmental mastery, personal growth and total SPWB score. Further exploration of resilience and the use of SPWB in sexual minority populations is proposed.

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