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J Anxiety Disord. 2006;20(8):996-1015. Epub 2006 Feb 24.

Social anxiety in young gay men.

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Department of Psychology, State University of New York, Stony Brook, New York, NY 11794-2500, USA.


Based on the assumption that sexual minority individuals are particularly sensitive to the possible rejection of others, the present study examined the occurrence and correlates of social anxiety symptomatology in gay and heterosexual men. Eighty-seven heterosexual and 87 gay undergraduate men between the ages of 18 and 24 completed common measures of social anxiety, self-esteem, boyhood gender conformity, and a modified S-R Inventory of Anxiousness. Results reveal that gay men reported greater fear of negative evaluation and social interaction anxiety and lower self-esteem than heterosexual men. Gay men who are less open about their sexual orientation and those who are less comfortable with being gay were more likely to experience anxiety in social interactions. The modified S-R Inventory of Anxiousness was useful in revealing that relatively innocuous situations for heterosexual men can be anxiety-provoking for gay men. The hypothesis that gay men who were gender nonconforming as children would report a higher degree of social interaction anxiety was not supported. Results are discussed in terms of the socialization experiences of gay men and are explicated using a minority stress framework. Implications are offered for the treatment of social anxiety in this population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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