Self-Esteem Versus Mastery: Unique Effects on Psychological and Social Well-Being and Depression in a Sexually Diverse Sample
Richardson, Angela Lynn
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Sexual minorities are often impacted by sources of stress not experienced by individuals in a majority group. Thus, sexual minorities are likely to experience higher levels of depressive symptoms than their heterosexual counterparts. Mastery and self-esteem are two psychological resources related to one’s self-perception and are associated with greater well-being and lower levels of psychopathology. The current study used data from the Stress, Identity, and Mental Health Study to explore 1) differences in levels of mastery, self-esteem, psychological and social well-being, and depression in homosexual, bisexual, queer, other non-heterosexual and heterosexual individuals, 2) the magnitude of the separate effects of mastery and self-esteem on psychological well-being, social well-being, and depression in a sexual minority sample, and 3) the magnitude of the unique effects of mastery and self-esteem on psychological well-being, social well-being, and depression when analyzed simultaneously in a sexual minority sample. Levels of depression and self-esteem did not differ among sexual orientation groups (confidence intervals included zero). Levels of social well-being (d = 0.50) and mastery (d=0.31) were higher in heterosexual individuals compared to bisexual individuals. Self-esteem and mastery predicted well-being and depression both when examined separately and together in the same model, but self-esteem was consistently a stronger predictor of outcomes. Self-esteem appears to be more useful in protecting against mental illness and maintaining well-being in sexual minority individuals.