Advertisement

Mindfulness

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 615–626 | Cite as

Trait Mindfulness and Self-Compassion as Moderators of the Association Between Gender Nonconformity and Psychological Health

  • Shian-Ling Keng
  • Kenny Wei Lun Liew
ORIGINAL PAPER

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Gender nonconformity Mindfulness Self-compassion Depression Anxiety Subjective well-being Protective factor 

Notes

Acknowledgements

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

Funding

This study did not receive any funding.

Ethical Approval

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

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.

References

  1. 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
  2. American Psychological Association. (2012). Guidelines for psychological practice with lesbian, gay, and bisexual clients. The American Psychologist, 67, 10–42. doi: 10.1037/a0024659.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 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
  4. Baer, R. A. (2003). Mindfulness training as a clinical intervention: a conceptual and empirical review. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10, 125–143. doi: 10.1093/clipsy.bpg015.Google Scholar
  5. Baer, R. A., Smith, G. T., Hopkins, J., Krietemeyer, J., & Toney, L. (2006). Using self-report assessment methods to explore facets of mindfulness. Assessment, 13(1), 27–45. doi: 10.1177/1073191105283504.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 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
  7. Bailey, J. M., & Zucker, K. J. (1995). Childhood sex-typed behavior and sexual orientation: a conceptual analysis and quantitative review. Developmental Psychology, 31(1), 43–55. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.31.1.43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bailey, J.M., Finkel, E., Blackwelder, K., & Bailey, T. (1998). Masculinity, femininity, and sexual orientation. Unpublished manuscript, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.Google Scholar
  9. Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 822–848. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.84.4.822.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cash, M., & Whittingham, K. (2010). What facets of mindfulness contribute to psychological well-being and depressive, anxious, and stress-related symptomatology? Mindfulness, 1, 177–182. doi: 10.1007/s12671-010-0023-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 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
  12. Crawford, J. R., & Henry, J. D. (2003). The Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS): normative data and latent structure in a large non-clinical sample. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 42(2), 111–131. doi: 10.1348/014466503321903544.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. Doty, N. D., Willoughby, B. L. B., Lindahl, K. M., & Malik, N. M. (2010). Sexuality related social support among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39, 1134–1147. doi: 10.1007/s10964-010-9566-x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Garland, E., Gaylord, S., & Park, J. (2009). The role of mindfulness in positive reappraisal. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, 5(1), 37–44. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2008.10.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Germer, C. K., Siegel, R. D., & Fulton, P. R. (2005). Mindfulness and psychotherapy. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  19. Gordon, A. R., & Meyer, I. H. (2007). Gender nonconformity as a target of prejudice, discrimination, and violence against LGB individuals. Journal of LGBT Health Research, 3(3), 55–71. doi: 10.1080/15574090802093562.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Graham, J. R., West, L. M., & Roemer, L. (2013). The experience of racism and anxiety symptoms in an African-American sample: moderating effects of trait mindfulness. Mindfulness, 4, 332–341. doi: 10.1007/s12671-012-0133-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hayes, S. C. (2004). Acceptance and commitment therapy, relational frame theory, and the third wave of behavioral and cognitive therapies. Behavior Therapy, 35, 639–665. doi: 10.1016/S0005-7894(04)80013-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 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
  23. Herek, G. M. (2007). Confronting sexual stigma and prejudice: theory and practice. Journal of Social Issues, 63, 905–925. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.2007.00544.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hofmann, S. G., Sawyer, A. T., Witt, A. A., & Oh, D. (2010). The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: a meta-analytic review. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(2), 169. doi: 10.1037/a0018555.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Impett, E. A., Schooler, D., & Tolman, D. L. (2006). To be seen and not heard: femininity ideology and adolescent girls’ sexual health. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 35(2), 131–144. doi: 10.1007/s10508-005-9016-0.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. International Wellbeing Group. (2006). Personal wellbeing index (4th ed.). Melbourne: Australian Centre on Quality of Life, Deakin University.Google Scholar
  27. 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
  28. Keng, S.-L., Smoski, M. J., & Robins, C. J. (2011). Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: a review of empirical studies. Clinical Psychology Review, 31, 1041–1056. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2011.04.006.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 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: 10.1891/0889-8391.26.3.270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy, W. B., & Martin, C. E. (1948). Sexual behavior in the human male. Philadelphia: Saunders.Google Scholar
  31. Kuyper, L., & Fokkema, T. (2011). Minority stress and mental health among Dutch LGBs: examination of differences between sex and sexual orientation. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 58(2), 222–233. doi: 10.1037/a0022688.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 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.
  33. 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: 10.1037/0022-3514.92.5.887.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Li, C. (2000). Confucianism and feminist concerns: overcoming the Confucian “gender complex”. Journal of Chinese Philosophy, 27(2), 187–199. doi: 10.1111/0301-8121.00012.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lilja, J. L., Lundh, L.-G., Josefsson, T., & Falkenström, F. (2012). Observing as an essential facet of mindfulness: a comparison of FFMQ patterns in meditating and non-meditating individuals. Mindfulness, 4(3), 203–212. doi: 10.1007/s12671-012-0111-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lippa, R. A. (2008). The relation between childhood gender nonconformity and adult masculinity-femininity and anxiety in heterosexual and homosexual men and women. Sex Roles, 59, 684–693. doi: 10.1007/s11199-008-9476-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lovibond, S. H., & Lovibond, P. F. (1995). Manual for the depression anxiety stress scales (2nd ed.). Sydney: Psychology Foundation.Google Scholar
  38. 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
  39. Neff, K. D. (2003). The development and validation of a scale to measure self-compassion. Self and Identity, 2(3), 223–250.Google Scholar
  40. 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
  41. Neff, K. D., & Germer, C. K. (2013). A pilot study and randomized controlled trial of the mindful self‐compassion program. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 69(1), 28–44. doi: 10.1002/jclp.21923.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Neff, K., Hsieh, Y., & Dejitterat, K. (2005). Self-compassion, achievement goals, and coping with academic failure. Self and Identity, 4, 263–287. doi: 10.1080/13576500444000317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Neff, K. D., Pisitsungkagarn, K., & Hsieh, Y.-P. (2008). Self-compassion and self-construal in the United States, Thailand, and Taiwan. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 39(3), 267–285. doi: 10.1177/0022022108314544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2000). The role of rumination in depressive disorders and mixed anxiety/depressive symptoms. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 109, 504. doi: 10.1037/0021-843X.109.3.504.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Oei, T. P. S., Sawang, S., Goh, Y. W., & Mukhtar, F. (2013). Using the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale 21 (DASS-21) across cultures. International Journal of Psychology, 48, 1018–1029. doi: 10.1080/00207594.2012.755535.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. Raes, F. (2010). Rumination and worry as mediators of the relationship between self-compassion and depression and anxiety. Personality and Individual Differences, 48, 757–761. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2010.01.023.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rasmussen, M. K., & Pidgeon, A. M. (2011). The direct and indirect benefits of dispositional mindfulness on self-esteem and social anxiety. Anxiety, Stress & Coping, 24(2), 227–233. doi: 10.1080/10615806.2010.515681.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 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
  51. Rieger, G., & Savin-Williams, R. C. (2012). Gender nonconformity, sexual orientation, and psychological well-being. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41, 611–621. doi: 10.1007/s10508-011-9738-0.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Robins, C. J., Keng, S.-L., Ekblad, A. G., & Brantley, J. G. (2012). Effects of mindfulness‐based stress reduction on emotional experience and expression: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 68, 117–131. doi: 10.1002/jclp.20857.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 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: 10.1037/1931-3918.1.2.105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Skidmore, W. C., Linsenmeier, J. A. W., & Bailey, J. B. (2006). Gender nonconformity and psychological distress in lesbians and gay men. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 35, 685–697. doi: 10.1007/s10508-006-9108-5.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Szymanski, D. M. (2009). Examining potential moderators of the link between heterosexist events and gay and bisexual men’s psychological distress. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 56(1), 142–151. doi: 10.1037/0022-0167.56.1.142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Thornton, B., & Leo, R. (1992). Gender typing, importance of multiple roles, and mental health consequences for women. Sex Roles, 27, 307–317. doi: 10.1007/BF00289931.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Toomey, R. B., Ryan, C., Diaz, R. M., Card, N. A., & Russell, S. T. (2010). Gender-nonconforming lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth: school victimization and young adult psychosocial adjustment. Developmental Psychology, 46, 1580–1589. doi: 10.1037/a0020705.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 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
  59. Wong, P. T. P., Kettlewell, G. E., & Sproule, C. F. (1985). On the importance of being masculine: sex role, attribution, and women’s career achievement. Sex Roles, 12, 757–769. doi: 10.1007/BF00287869.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.Institute of Mental HealthSingaporeSingapore

Personalised recommendations