Causal Influences of Same-Sex Attraction on Psychological Distress and Risky Sexual Behaviors: Evidence for Bidirectional Effects

Olakunle Ayokunmi Oginni*, Kai Xiang Lim, Kirstin Lee Purves, Yi Lu, Ada Johansson, Patrick Jern, Frühling Vesta Rijsdijk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
42 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Although health disparities among same-sex attracted compared to heterosexual individuals are typically explained by minority stress, there is limited evidence for a causal effect. This study investigated whether same-sex attraction was causally associated with psychological distress and risky sexual behavior using sociosexual behavior as a proxy. The sample comprised monozygotic and dizygotic twins and their non-twin siblings (n = 2036, 3780 and 2356, respectively) genotyped and assessed for same-sex attraction, psychological distress (anxiety and depressive symptoms), and risky sexual behavior. Causal influences were investigated with same-sex attraction as the predictor and psychological distress and risky sexual behavior as the outcomes in two separate Mendelian Randomization-Direction of Causation (MRDoC) models using OpenMx in R. The MRDoC model improves on the Mendelian Randomization and Direction of Causation twin models by allowing analyses of variables with similar genetic architectures, incorporating polygenic scores as instrumental variables and specifying pleiotropy and residual covariance. There were significant causal influences flowing from same-sex attraction to psychological distress and risky sexual behavior (standardized coefficients = 0.13 and 0.16; 95% CIs 0.03–0.23 and 0.08–0.25, respectively). Further analyses also demonstrated causal influences flowing from psychological distress and risky sexual behavior toward same-sex attraction. Causal influences from same-sex attraction to psychological distress and risky sexual behavior may reflect minority stress, which reinforces ongoing measures to minimize social disparities. Causal influences flowing in the opposite direction may reflect rejection sensitivity, stigma-inducing outcomes of risky sexual behavior, and recall bias; however, further research is required to specifically investigate these processes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Direction of Causation
  • Mendelian Randomization
  • Psychological distress
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Same-sex attraction
  • Sexual orientation

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