Date of Award

Summer 6-2-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor/Committee Member

Lynette Bikos, PhD

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Marcia Webb, PhD

Third Advisor/Committee Member

David Stewart, PhD

Fourth Advisor/Committee Member

Jennifer Arm, PhD


There is a complex relationship between the intersections of religious or spiritual faith and sexuality when it comes to sexual minorities. Sexual minorities’ sexualities have historically been stigmatized within the many of the faith traditions that sexual minorities may have grown up in. Further, college/university is a time when intersecting identities are often explored. In order to investigate the relationship between sexual minority students’ internal working models of God (God image benevolence and God image acceptance) and internalized self-stigma as a function of both strength of faith and campus climate, I recruited 68 sexual minority students and recent students from across the United States. Of these, 55.9% identified as gay or lesbian, 19.1% as bisexual, 16.2% identified as other, and 8.8% identified as heterosexual but reported experiencing same-sex attraction. The sample was predominantly Christian (61.8%) and White (82.4%). I analyzed two double-moderation models using Hayes (2013a) PROCESS macro in SPSS—a benevolence model and an acceptance model. The benevolence model accounted for 46.26% of the variance in predicting internalized self-stigma. There was also a significant interaction between benevolence and strength of faith (B = -.0354, p = .0187) but not Campus Climate (B = - .0019, p = .1361). The acceptance model accounted for 42.47% of the variance in predicting internalized self-stigma. Acceptance (B = -.0478, p = .0012) and strength of faith (B = .4916, p = .0000) independently predicted internalized self-stigma but did not interact (B = -.0147, p = .2009). Campus climate was non-significant independently (B = .0006, p = .9299) and as an interaction term (B = -.0009, p = .3672). Results suggest that having a more positive (benevolent, accepting) God image may predict having lower internalized self-stigma, while having a more negative God image may predict having more internalized self-stigma (with lower scores on the scales indicating a harsher, less accepting God image). Further, the strength of one’s faith may buffer or heighten the effects of one’s God image. Therefore, God image benevolence/acceptance may be important to consider when working with sexual minorities for whom God image may be relevant in reducing internalized self-stigma.

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