Le, Huong Thi (2016-08). Exploring Stability in Sexuality and Mental Health Outcomes Using Identity Theory. Doctoral Dissertation.
A growing body of work shows that sexual orientation can and does change over time. However, little of that research delves into the mental health repercussions of such a shift in identity. This project uses the Kaplan Longitudinal and Multigenerational Study (KLAMS) and employs nested negative binomial regression to explore the impact of sexual identity change on mental health outcomes. Identity control theory is used to explain how lack of identity verification, caused by a shifting sexual identity, leads to stress, which can manifest as higher reported counts of negative mental health symptoms. Results show the most relevant factor regarding sexual identity mobility and negative mental health outcomes is fluidity (change over time) in sexual orientation itself, rather than stigma alone. This finding provides support for identity control theory interpretations. There were no differences found in negative mental health symptoms for those that reported stable sexual orientations.