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Dissertation

The impact of internalized homophobia and attachment style in emerging adult gay men’s attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help

17 June 2013

Abstract

Gay men face many challenges throughout their lives. Emerging adult gay men (EAGM) are particularly vulnerable. Minority stress theory posits that these individuals often experience stigmatization, which is often internalized as self-hatred, and leads them to be at greater risk for substance abuse, depression, suicide, and sexual health problems. This is known as internalized homophobia. Secure attachment style has been found to improve one’s ability to navigate and cope with emotional stress, including the ability to seek mental health services. Because one’s attachment style is pivotal in how one interacts with the world, a young gay man’s ability to navigate negative feelings about himself may influence and interact with his attitudes toward seeking psychological services. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to examine and clarify the role that internalized homophobia has in a young gay man’s attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help when attachment style is considered.

In order to test this hypothesis, 225 EAGM ages 18 to 28 were recruited through fliers across the nation both online and in paper format. They were asked to visit a survey based website (SurveyGizmo.com) to participate in a research study about their attitudes and perceptions of themselves and of mental health services. Participants filled out four measures: a demographics questionnaire; the Relationship Scales Questionnaire (RSQ; Griffin & Bartholomew, 1994); the Internalized Homophobia Scale (IHS; Ross & Rosser, 1996); and the Attitudes Toward Seeking Professional Psychological Help – Short Form Scale (ATSPPH-SF; Fischer & Farina, 1995). Results reveal a correlation between internalized homophobia and attachment. Internalized homophobia helped predict attitudes toward seeking psychological help above age, education, and fearful attachment. However, education and fearful attachment were not significant in the regression equation. Statistical analysis and discussion is provided.


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