Category: Gay / Lesbian / Bisexual / Transgender Issues

Symposium

Examining Links Between Depression and Affective Responses to Discrimination in Bisexual Individuals

Saturday, November 18
10:15 AM - 11:45 AM
Location: Aqua Salon C & D, Level 3, Aqua Level

Keywords: L / G / B / T | Stigma | Depression
Presentation Type: Symposium

Bisexual individuals exhibit higher rates of depression than both their heterosexual and gay and lesbian peers (Pompili et al., 2014). Extant work has linked this phenomenon to bisexuals’ experiences of discrimination from heterosexuals (Eliason, 1997), as well as lesbians and gay men (Brewster et al., 2013). However little experimental work has examined the mechanisms by which each type of discrimination may be differentially related to depression. We used an affective science framework to examine whether emotional reactivity during film clips that depicted each discrimination type predicted symptoms of depression. In line with work on in- versus out-group rejection, we anticipated that discrimination by lesbians and gay men would be associated with higher depression compared to discrimination by heterosexuals.


Bisexual adults (N=154; 63.6% female; mean age = 24.6 years) were recruited online via Facebook, and viewed two 2-minute-long film clips in a counterbalanced order. One clip depicted anti-bisexual messages from the heterosexual community, while the other showed similar messages from lesbian and gay individuals. Participants completed mood ratings before and after watching each clip, and then completed the Center for Epidemiological Studies – Depression scale (CES-D). Affective reactivity scores (post-clip – pre-clip) were calculated for each clip.


Participants demonstrated greater negative affective reactivity in response to the heterosexual clip than the lesbian/gay clip (t =-2.66, p


We found that heterosexual- and lesbian/gay-led discrimination both elicited negative affect, albeit to varying degrees, and that this resultant affect differentially predicted depression depending on discrimination source. These findings highlight the complex mechanisms underlying links between discrimination, affect, and depression, and point to the importance of considering both types of discrimination in clinical work with this population.

Ilana Seager

Graduate Student
The Ohio State University

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