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Rumination, Sexual Orientation Uncertainty, and Psychological Distress in Sexual Minority University Students

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This study examined associations between uncertainty about sexual orientation, rumination, and psychological distress in university students. We hypothesized that increased rumination would mediate associations between higher sexual orientation uncertainty and greater psychological distress. Furthermore, we hypothesized that these associations might differ for self-identified lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) versus heterosexual emerging adults. A sample of 207 university students completed questionnaires assessing sexual orientation uncertainty, rumination, depressive symptoms, perceived stress, and aggression. Path analyses indicated that higher sexual orientation uncertainty was associated with greater rumination, depressive symptoms, and perceived stress. Furthermore, rumination mediated associations between sexual orientation uncertainty and all measures of psychological distress across the entire sample. However, multi-group analyses indicated that these associations emerged for LGB participants but not for heterosexuals. Results suggest that rumination may constitute a common but maladaptive coping response for sexual minorities facing sexual orientation uncertainty. Interventions for this population should focus on decreasing rumination.

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