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Depression and Anxiety as Predictors of Self-Acceptance of Celibate Gay Christians

3590 words (14 pages) Essay in Psychology

08/02/20 Psychology Reference this

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There are several studies that consider the relationship of self-acceptance, depression and anxiety (Stankovic, Matic, Vukosavljevic-Gvozden & Opacic, 2015; Scott, 2007; MacInnes, 2006; Flett, Besser, Davis & Hewitt, 2003; Chamberlain & Haaga, 2001). However, few of them address these topics in relation to the LGB community. This study utilized archival data from 200 celibate gay Christians to explore the predictability of depression and anxiety using relevant subscales from the DASS-21 on the self-acceptance subscale scores of the RYFF-14. This study found that celibate gay Christians scores on the depression subscale are significantly correlated with the self-acceptance scores and also have a strong predictive measure. However, the anxiety scores did not reveal any significant effects.

Depression and Anxiety as Predictors of Self-Acceptance of Celibate Gay Christians

The current literature reveals a movement in the gay and Christian the identifies celibate gay Christians as “Side B” (Creek, 2013 & Yarhouse, Morgan, Anthony, & Sudusky, 2015). This population of individuals have committed to a life of sexual purity and abstinence to include same-sex sexual relations (Creeks, 2013). There is great difficulty for this population of individuals as the Christian community challenges their sexual identity and attractions; therefore, classifying this identity as sinful (Yarhouse et al., 2015). Moreover, this does not dispel the fact that they are sexual beings with desire and lust for those they are sexually attracted. Creek (2013) highlights that even in the presences of desire there is not harm unless these feelings are acted upon. In that same light, there is the possibility of gay Christians to find themselves in an emotional and sexual crisis.

Self-Acceptance among LGB

 It can be assumed that many individuals who identify as LGB are faced with challenges as it relates to their identity development and personal self-acceptance. While there is limited research surround self-acceptance and the LGB community, there is relevant research that address unconditional self-acceptance and its relationship with depressive symptoms and anxiety (Stankovic, Matic, Vukosavljevic-Gvozden & Opacic, 2015; Scott, 2007; MacInnes, 2006; Flett, Besser, Davis & Hewitt, 2003; Chamberlain & Haaga, 2001). In a study by MacInnes (2006) there is evidence of a relationship between self-esteem and self-acceptance that identifies individuals with lower self-esteem to have higher levels of anxiety and depression. Also, highlighting self-acceptance was only slightly lower between those with high anxiety, depression, psychological ill health (MacInnes, 2006). Chamberlain and Haaga (2001) reported an association between USAQ scores and anxiety symptoms but not depression when controlling for self-esteem (RSE). In essence, there seems to be a trend in the research that suggests, even minimally, a correlation between anxiety and depression and self-acceptance among individuals.

Anxiety and Depression among LGB

There can several circumstances why an LGB individual experiences anxiety and/or depression. As mentioned above, there could be frustration with one’s sexual desire and faith acceptance that can create a difficult emotional state. Vincke and Bolton (1994) found there to be a connection among gay men with depression and self-acceptance, in that, depression cause by low social support if one is gay to having lower self-acceptance. More specifically, “one cannot address the absence of self-acceptance of gay men without overcoming their depressed mood” (Vincke & Bolton, 1994). Likewise, according to Mohr and Fassinger (2003), those who are challenged in accepting their sexual orientation are more likely to have higher attachment avoidance and higher levels of anxiety. There is possible reason to believe that this high avoidance and anxiety and depression may be partially mediated by a negative self-view by individuals who are LGB (Mohr & Fassinger, 2003).

Rationale for the Study

The purpose of this quantitative study is to explore the predictive impact of depression and anxiety on self-acceptance of celibate gay Christians. There is limited research on this population as it relates to relationship of depression, anxiety, and self-acceptance. The results of this study will add to the current literature and give additional clarity about the psychological and emotional wellbeing of celibate gay Christians. That being so, it is important for counselors to be aware of the relationship between the emotional state of gay Christians and the self-acceptance of who they are. This can also relatively impact their gender/sexual identity and their identity as a human.


This study utilized archival data collected through the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity (ISSI). The data was collected using a convenience sample of individuals who completed an online survey about the intersection of faith and same-sex attraction. The participants identified as gay, either bisexual, homosexual or transgender.

Population and Sampling

All participants were Christian, same-sex attracted men or women, 18 years old or older. This study gathered 200 subjects from online support networks. Participants were originally recruited through online support networks for gay Christians by the ISSI. Once a qualified participant agreed to participate in the study, he or she was directed to an online SurveyMonkey©. The participant was able to access and complete all study related documents which included the following: instructions, research consent form, participant demographic questionnaire, RYFF-14 and the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale.  All electronic documents were archived on the password protected SurveyMonkey© site, which was provided to the researcher for analysis.


Two measures were used in the collection of data for the participants: (1) RYFF-14 Scales of Psychological Well-being and (2) Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21).

RYFF-14 Scales of Psychological Well-Being

The RYFF Scales of Psychological Well-Being (RYFF-14; Ryff, C. D., 1989) is a collection of 6 14-item scales of psychological well-being used to measure dimensions of autonomy, environment master, personal growth, positive relations with others, purpose in life and self-acceptance. Each item is scored from strongly disagree (1), moderately disagree (2), slightly disagree (3), slightly agree (4), moderately agree (5) strongly agree (6). Each scale has a series of negatively score items that are reversed in the final scoring procedures. There are not specific scores or cut off points to define high or low well-being. Scores can be categorized into quartiles of the sample distribution or they can be assessed by looking at standard deviations. In that high well-being would be scores 1.5 standard deviation above the mean and low well-being would be 1.5 standard deviations below the mean.

Each 14-item scale has been assessed for internal consistently and reliability. The self-acceptance scale will be used for this study and has been found to have high internal consistency with a coefficient alpha of .91.

Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale-21 (DASS-21)

The Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS-21; Lovibond & Lovibond, 1995) is a 21 item self-report questionnaire that is designed to measure the severity of symptoms common to both depression and anxiety. In completing the DASS-21, the individual is required to indicate the presence of a symptom over the previous week. Each item is scored from 0 (did not apply to me at all over the last week) to 3 (applied to me very much or most of the time over the past week). To make the Likert scale more specific, the researchers in this study specified the amount of days over the past week that the individual has experienced that symptom: (0) less than one day, (1) 1-2 days, (2) 3-4 days, and (3) 5-7 days. There are three subscales within the DASS-21: depression, anxiety, and stress.

The DASS-21 has also been found to have high internal consistency reliability for each of the subscales (s = .85, .81, and .88) for Depression, Anxiety, and Stress, respectively (Osman et al., 2012). The researcher summed up the raw score values for only two of the subscales (depression and anxiety), where the higher values represented more days and symptoms attributed to each emotional state within the past week.

Research Question

Does Depression and Anxiety score on the DASS-21 significantly predicts the self-acceptance score on the RYFF-14?

Data Analyses

Only one of the three variables are normally distributed, self-acceptance scores on the RYFF 14 (SumRYFFSA) (Figure 1). According to the Shapiro-Wilk test of normality, this variable is normally distributed (p = .054) (Table 2).

Figure 1

Normal Distribution of the Self-Acceptance Scores on the RYFF-14.

Table 2

Tests of Normality______________________________________________________________

   Kolmogorov-Smirnova  Shapiro-Wilk 

   Statistic df Sig.  Statistic df Sig.
DASS Depression .159  200 .000  .904  200 .000
DASS Anxiety .190  200 .000  .835  200 .000
RYFF Self Accept. .089  200 .001  .987  200 .054

On the two predictor variables, anxiety and depression scores on the DASS 21 (SumDASSAnx and SumDASSDepr), they are part of the same survey that was taken at the same time for each case. Consequently, this violates the assumption that each variable should be independent and separate from the other. In that case, any significant results from this study should be scrutinized.

 For the purposes of this study, only the depression subscale and the anxiety subscale of the DASS-21 were used. Likewise, of the 6 subscales of the RYFF-14, only the self-acceptance subscales were used. In each case, the raw scores were summed for each participant based on their responses to teach item on that subscale. The sum of the raw scores were used and analyzed utilizing a Pearson Correlation and Multiple Regression. The DASS-21 subscale scores for depression and anxiety were used as continuous variables. The criterion variable (Self-Acceptance scores on the RYFF-14) were used as categorical variable in the set of analyses which also leads to additional scrutiny as to the validity of the results.


 The sample consisted of 200 participates who reported having bisexual or homosexual attractions. The research question of this study was to determine if the depression and anxiety subscales of the DASS-21 significantly predicted scores on the self-acceptance subscales of the RYFF-14. The researcher hypothesized there is no statistically significant prediction of self-acceptance scores on the RYFF-14 by the depression and anxiety subscales of the DASS-21. The mean scores for each variable are listed in Table 3.

Table 3

Descriptive Statistics ____________________________________________________________

   N Mean  SD Variance Skewness Kurtosis

RYFF Self Accept. 200 33.4  4.8 22.8  -.24  .06 

DASS Depression 200 6.6  5.7 33.0  .77  -.42 

DASS Anxiety 200 3.1  3.4 11.8  1.39  1.72

Each variable was entered as predictors into a multiple regression using the standard and hierarchical method. However, the variable that was significantly correlated with the criterion variable, Self-Acceptance, was Depression (r = -.53, p < .001).

A significant model emerged, F(2, 197) = 38.70, p < .001, when both predictor variables were entered. The model explains 28% of the variance in the Self-Acceptance subscale (R2 = .28). Table 4 gives information about the regression coefficients for the predictor variables entered in the model. The Depression subscale revealed a significant negative relationship with the criterion variable and there was no significant relationship with the Anxiety subscale (p = .47).

Table 4


The unstandardized and standardized regression coefficients for the variables entered into the model.

Variable    B  SEB  β  p

DASS Depression  -.47  .06  -.56  <.001

DASS Anxiety  .08  .11  .06  .47

Additionally, a significant model emerged, F(1, 198) = 77.06, p < .001, when the Depression variable was entered over the Anxiety variable. This model also explains 28% of the variance in Self-Acceptance (R2 = .28). The Depression variable over above the Anxiety variable was found to be a stronger predictor of Self-Acceptance with a standard error of the estimate of 4.05. In both models, the Cohen’s f2 effect size was .38 with high statistical power decreasing the likelihood a of Type II error.


 This study suggests that depression subscale scores on the DASS-21 among celibate gay Christians can significantly predicts self-acceptance subscales scores on the RYFF-14. This is similar to the findings by MacInnes (2006) that suggest a significant correlation between both self-acceptance and depression and self-acceptance and anxiety, but the correlation was small. In this study, self-acceptance and depression were significantly correlated as well, highlighting that this relationship may have an impact to the predictability of self-acceptance scores.

Vincke and Bolton (1994)…

Although the effect size for each model was low, there is evidence to consider the impact of depression and anxiety on self-acceptance of celibate gay Christians.

Depression of gays and self-acceptance maybe even self-esteem could impact gender/sexual identity and their religiosity if connected to those identities

Predictability of depression on self-acceptance should inform counselors and the goals of therapy for clients presenting depression

Limitations of the Study

 Normality of the DASS-21 subscales of anxiety and depression were violated.

subscales were not equal units of measurement which does not work best for regression analysis

Use of DASS-21 total scale scores have stronger support than using the independent subscales for hypothesized dimensions (Osman, et al., 2012).

DASS-21 is used to represent negative emotions over the past week and not longer (Osman, et al., 2012).

Small sample size and not random.

Some limitations of this study included the absence of a comparison group, the convenience sample utilized for the research, and the lack of diversity represented in the sample. While the research did attempt to do comparisons to normed populations, these limitations reduce external validity and point to ideas for future research that could be completed to grow the body of data in this area.

Suggestions for Future Research

Consider using a different instrument to assess depression, anxiety and self-acceptance

Increase the sample size by using a random sample

Compare these findings to a clinical sample of gay Christians to observe any significant differences

Add religiosity and self-esteem as a variable

Consider age as a variable to look at LGB teenagers, depression and self-acceptance



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Appendix A

Socio-Demographic Information 

                                                                         Frequency  Percent

Sexual Attraction
 Homosexual     161  80.5  
 Bisexual     39  19.5  
 Female      36  18.0  
 Male      162  81.0  
 Transgender     2  1.0

Ethnic Background

 White      167  83.5

 African American/Black   7  3.5 

 Asian/Pacific Islander    17  8.5

 Hispanic/Latino    1  .5

 Multicultural     4  2.0 

 Other      4  2.0


 Working full time    115  57.5

 Working part time    24  12.0 

 Unemployed and not looking for work 1  .5

 Unemployed and looking for work  7  3.5

 Disabled     5  2.5

 Retired      4  2.0

 Currently in school    42  21.0

 Homemaker     1  .5

 Did not specify    1  .5


 16-20      14  7.0

21-30      97  48.5

31-40      32  16.0

41-50      23  11.5

51-60      20  10.0

61-70      6  3.0 

Missing     8  4.0

Marital Status

 Never Married     168  84.0

 Widowed      2  1.0

 Married     30  15.0

Total       200  100.0 

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