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Non-heterosexual populations experience poorer mental health outcomes than their heterosexual counterparts. Few studies, however, have examined how mental health varies across the continuum of sexual orientation. Nor has any study examined possible links between sexual orientation and traits of impulsivity and compulsivity, which contribute to functional impairment across a broad spectrum of psychiatric disorders. To address these limitations, the present study sought to identify addictive and impulsive/compulsive problems associated with sexuality in a university sample.
A 156-item anonymous survey was distributed via email to 9449 students at a public university in the United States. Sexual orientation was assessed using the Klein Sexual Orientation Grid, a modification of the Kinsey scale. Current use of alcohol and drugs, mental health status, and academic performance were also assessed, along with valid trait measures of impulsivity and compulsivity.
Same-sex attractions were significantly correlated with a range of mental health problems and substance use. Additionally, same-sex attraction was significantly correlated with certain behavioral addictions (compulsive sexual behavior and binge eating disorder) as well as impulsive/compulsive traits. There was no relationship between academic performance and sexual attraction.
Same-sex sexuality is associated with impulsive/compulsive behavior and addiction. These health disparities may be related to stable individual differences in self-control.
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