An Implicit Measure of Anti-Gay Attitudes: Prospective Associations with Emotion Regulation Strategies and Psychological Distress

J Exp Soc Psychol. 2009 Nov 1;45(6):1316-1320. doi: 10.1016/j.jesp.2009.08.005.


Members of stigmatized groups are at increased risk for mental health problems, and recent research has suggested that emotion dysregulation may be one mechanism explaining the stigma-distress association. However, little is known regarding characteristics that predict vulnerabilities to emotion dysregulation and subsequent distress. We examined whether anti-gay attitudes would predict poorer emotion regulation and greater psychological distress in 31 lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) respondents. Respondents completed implicit and explicit attitude measures at baseline, and participated in an experience sampling study examining stigma-related stressors, emotion regulation strategies, and mood over the course of ten days. Implicit and explicit attitude measures were not correlated. LGB respondents with greater implicit anti-gay attitudes engaged in significantly more rumination and suppression and reported more psychological distress. Rumination fully mediated the prospective association between implicit prejudicial attitudes and psychological distress, and suppression was a marginally significant mediator.