The Impact of Perceived Stigma Among the LGBTQ Community
Advisor: Vicki Helgeson
Majors: Psychology and Philosophy
LGBTQ individuals are found to have an increased risk of developing mental health difficulties, which stem from chronic LGBTQ-specific minority stressors. Perceived stigma, defined as the anticipation of rejection, discrimination, and violence because of one’s minority status, is one of the main minority stressors. The proposed research aims to study perceived stigma and its impact on LGBTQ individuals’ psychological health in an experimental setting. In the experiment, participants will be randomly assigned to be led to believe that they are interacting with someone who is anti-LGBTQ (experimental condition) or to be given no information about whether the person they are interacting with is anti-LGBTQ or not (control condition). After receiving this information, the participant will engage in a ten-minute interaction with a stranger. I hypothesize that participants in the experimental condition will be more withdrawn and less sociable during the interaction and report more psychological distress after the conversation compared to participants in the control condition. The proposed project enriches the existing body of work on LGBTQ stigma by assessing the causal relation between perceived stigma and adverse mental health. These results can be used to develop interventions to increase resilience in LGBTQ persons.
Letian is pursuing a dual degree in Psychology and Philosophy. She is passionate about research on social stigma, intimate relationships and cognitive science. She worked as a research assistant in the Relationships lab for a year and currently working in the Gender, Relationships and Health lab. Letian plans to apply for a PhD program in Social Psychology after graduating from CMU. Outside school, Letian enjoys cooking, reading and wandering the earth.