Trait Mindfulness and Self-Compassion as Moderators of the Association Between Gender Nonconformity and Psychological Health
Much research has established a negative association between gender nonconformity and psychological health. Less is known however regarding factors that may attenuate the link between gender nonconformity and psychological health. The present study aimed to investigate the association between gender nonconformity and psychological health in a Singaporean sample, and to examine trait mindfulness and self-compassion as potential moderators of the association. A community sample of 206 adults was recruited and completed an online survey anonymously. The survey included measures of gender nonconformity, sexual orientation, trait mindfulness, self-compassion, depression, anxiety, and subjective well-being. Results showed that gender nonconformity positively and significantly predicted depressive symptoms, and negatively predicted subjective well-being. Trait mindfulness moderated the association between gender nonconformity and depression, anxiety, and subjective well-being respectively, with the direction of the moderation effects indicating the role of trait mindfulness as a protective factor against psychological distress. Self-compassion moderated the relationship between gender nonconformity and subjective well-being. Specifically, the association between gender nonconformity and subjective well-being was positive at high levels of self-compassion, and negative at low levels of self-compassion. While cross-sectional in nature, the findings provide preliminary support for the role of trait mindfulness and self-compassion as potential buffers against negative psychological effects of gender nonconformity.
KeywordsGender nonconformity Mindfulness Self-compassion Depression Anxiety Subjective well-being Protective factor
The authors would like to thank the Oogachaga Counseling Center in Singapore for their assistance with publicity of this study within the LGBT community. The authors are grateful to all the participants who volunteered their time to participate in this study.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
This study did not receive any funding.
All procedures performed in the studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all the individual participants included in the study.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Alanko, K., Santtila, P., Witting, K., Varjonen, M., Jern, P., Johansson, A., … Sandnabba, N. K. (2009). Psychiatric symptoms and same-sex sexual attraction and behavior in light of childhood gender atypical behavior and parental relationships. Journal of Sex Research, 46, 494-504. doi: 10.1080/00224490902846487
- Baams, L., Beek, T., Hille, H., Zevenbergen, F. C., & Bos, H. M. W. (2013). Gender nonconformity, perceived stigmatization, and psychological well-being in Dutch sexual minority youth and young adults: a mediation analysis. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42, 765–773. doi: 10.1007/s10508-012-0055-z.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Baer, R.A., Smith, G.T., Lykins, E., Button, D., Krietemeyer, J., Sauer, S., … Williams, J. M. G. (2008). Construct validity of the five facet mindfulness questionnaire in meditating and nonmeditating samples. Assessment, 15, 329–342. doi: 10.1177/1073191107313003Google Scholar
- Bailey, J.M., Finkel, E., Blackwelder, K., & Bailey, T. (1998). Masculinity, femininity, and sexual orientation. Unpublished manuscript, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.Google Scholar
- Chandler, S.L.L. (2013). Can self-compassion be induced to reduce sexual minority stigma and protect psychological functioning? (Doctoral dissertation). East Tennessee State University. Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Full Text (document ID 1442772738).Google Scholar
- Crews, D.A. (2012). Exploring self-compassion with lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons. (Thesis/dissertation). University of Utah. Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Full Text (document ID 1039317647).Google Scholar
- Detenber, B. H., Cenite, M., Ku, M. K. Y., Ong, C. P. L., Tong, H. Y., & Yeow, M. L. H. (2007). Singaporeans’ attitudes toward lesbians and gay men and their tolerance of media portrayals of homosexuality. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 19(3), 367–379. doi: 10.1093/ijpor/edm017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Detenber, B. H., Ho, S. S., Neo, R. L., Malik, S., & Cenite, M. (2013). Influence of value predispositions, interpersonal contact, and mediated exposure on public attitudes toward homosexuals in Singapore. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 16(3), 181–196. doi: 10.1111/ajsp.12006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Germer, C. K., Siegel, R. D., & Fulton, P. R. (2005). Mindfulness and psychotherapy. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Hayes, A. F., & Matthes, J. (2009). Computational procedures for probing interactions in OLS and logistic regression: SPSS and SAS implementations. Behavior Research Methods, 41(3), 924–936.Google Scholar
- International Wellbeing Group. (2006). Personal wellbeing index (4th ed.). Melbourne: Australian Centre on Quality of Life, Deakin University.Google Scholar
- Johnson, K. L., & Ghavami, N. (2011). At the crossroads of conspicuous and concealable: what race categories communicate about sexual orientation. PLoS One, 6(3), e18025.Google Scholar
- Keng, S.-L., Smoski, M. J., Robins, C. J., Ekblad, A. G., & Brantley, J. G. (2012). Mechanisms of change in mindfulness-based stress reduction: self-compassion and mindfulness as mediators of intervention outcomes. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 26(3), 270–280. doi: 10.1891/0889-83184.108.40.2060.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy, W. B., & Martin, C. E. (1948). Sexual behavior in the human male. Philadelphia: Saunders.Google Scholar
- Kwara, M. (2014). Petitions put spotlight on Health Promotion Board’s FAQ on sexuality. Yahoo! Singapore News. Retrieved from http://sg.news.yahoo.com/petitions-put-spotlight-on-health-promotion-board-s-faq-on-sexuality-040114018.html.
- Leary, M. R., Tate, E. B., Adams, C. E., Allen, A. B., & Hancock, J. (2007). Self-compassion and reactions to unpleasant self-relevant events: the implications of treating oneself kindly. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 887–904. doi: 10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.117.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Lovibond, S. H., & Lovibond, P. F. (1995). Manual for the depression anxiety stress scales (2nd ed.). Sydney: Psychology Foundation.Google Scholar
- Meyer, I. H. (2003). Prejudice, social stress, and mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: conceptual issues and research evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 129(5), 674.Google Scholar
- Neff, K. D. (2003). The development and validation of a scale to measure self-compassion. Self and Identity, 2(3), 223–250.Google Scholar
- Neff, K. D., & Davidson, O. (2016). Self-compassion: embracing suffering with kindness. Mindfulness in positive psychology: the science of meditation and wellbeing. In I. Ivtzan & T. Lomas (Eds.), Mindfulness in positive psychology: The science of meditation and wellbeing. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Ong, J. (2014). Singapore athlete gets laughed at, rejected, and defeated—but still walks on. Yahoo! Singapore Sports. Retrieved from: https://sg.sports.yahoo.com/blogs/fit-to-post-sports/singapore-athlete-gets-laughed-at--rejected-and-defeated-%E2%80%93-but-still-walks-on-021733599.html.
- Oogachaga Counselling and Support. (2012). Impact of homophobia and transphobia on LGBTQ individuals in Singapore: survey summary report May 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.oogachaga.com/files/SummaryReportMay2012c.pdf.
- Rawtaer, I., Mahendran, R., Yu, J., Fam, J., Feng, L., & Kua, E. H. (2015). Psychosocial interventions with art, music, Tai Chi and mindfulness for subsyndromal depression and anxiety in older adults: a naturalistic study in Singapore. Asia-Pacific Psychiatry: Official Journal of the Pacific Rim College of Psychiatrists, 7(3), 240–250. doi: 10.1111/appy.12201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Shapiro, S. L., Brown, K. W., & Biegel, G. M. (2007). Teaching self-care to caregivers: effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on the mental health of therapists in training. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 1(2), 105–115. doi: 10.1037/1931-3918.104.22.168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Valentova, J., Rieger, G., Havlicek, J., Linsenmeier, J. A., & Bailey, J. M. (2011). Judgments of sexual orientation and masculinity–femininity based on thin slices of behavior: a cross-cultural comparison. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40(6), 1145–1152.Google Scholar