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Sexual Identity Development in the Context of Compulsory Heterosexuality


  • This project was partially supported by a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship. The authors wish to thank Dr. Mary Crawford and the members of the University of Michigan Sexuality Research Consortium for their assistance with the design and analysis of this study.

Please address correspondence to: Julie Konik, University of Michigan, Department of Psychology, 525 E. University, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1109. E-mail:


Abstract This study analyzed the implications of sexual identity development for global, political, religious, and occupational identity development in 358 college students. Participants completed a written survey packet including the Extended Objective Measure of Ego Identity Status (EOM-EIS) and measures of sexual identity, physical/sexual preference, and emotional/affective preference. Data from the EOM-EIS suggest that having a sexual minority identity (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or “other” nonheterosexual identity) and reporting strong same-sex sexual or physical preferences are linked with more advanced global, political, religious, and occupational identity development. Heterosexual-identified participants were more likely to score high on identity foreclosure, moratorium, and diffusion, while sexual-minority-identified individuals scored higher on identity achievement. Individuals with strong same-sex physical/sexual preferences showed a pattern of results similar to those of sexual-minority-identified participants. Themes coded from a free-response question highlighted the finding that sexual-minority-identified participants more often viewed their sexual identity as salient and involving an effortful process. These individuals also stressed the importance of having support or modeling for their sexual identity.

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