Martin-Storey A, Lemelin J-P, Temcheff C, Déry M. (2020). Exploring childhood temperament as a moderator of the association between adolescent sexual minority status and internalizing and externalizing behavior problems. Journal of Adolescence. 84: 190-199.
Introduction: Sexual minority youth experience worse mental health compared to their hetero-sexual peers, reflecting the consequences of sexual minority-based stigma. Previous research has focused on contextual variation to understand variability within this vulnerability. Childhood temperament factors such as negative affect, effortful control and surgency/extraversion are important for understanding differential susceptibility to environmental stressors. The objective of the current study was to understand how childhood temperament factors, measured prior to the most difficult developmental period for sexual minority youth, moderated the association between sexual minority status and internalizing and externalizing behavior problems. Methods: Youth reporting same-sex attraction in an ongoing longitudinal project on the devel-opment of conduct problems in Quebec, Canada were matched with heterosexual peers, for an analytic sample of 280 youth (62% girls). Structural equation models were used to examine (1) the association between youth-reported same-sex attraction (ages 13–16) and parent and youth- reported internalizing and externalizing problems a year later at ages 14–17, and (2) the moderating role of temperament (ages 6–9) in this association between sexual minority status and internalizing and externalizing problems. Results: Same-sex attraction was associated with higher levels of youth-reported internalizing and externalizing behavior problems. Surgency/extraversion moderated the association between sexual minority status and youth-reported internalizing and externalizing problems. Conclusions: These findings suggest that temperament linked to individual visibility may be important for understanding variation in self-reported mental health among sexual minority youth, and supports the use of developmental constructs like temperament to better understand vulnerability to psychosocial difficulties within this population