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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Exploring Polyamorous Resilience and Strength Factors: A Structural Equation Modeling Approach
by Witherspoon, Ryan G., Ph.D., Alliant International University, 2018, 214; 10841959
Abstract (Summary)

Polyamory is a type of consensual non-monogamy (CNM) in which participants engage in multiple simultaneous romantic and often sexual relationships with the knowledge and consent of all involved. CNM practitioners in general, and polyamorous people in specific, appear to be highly stigmatized due to their relational practices, and to frequently encounter CNM-related discrimination, harassment, and violence (DHV). Conceptualizing this dynamic via minority stress theory predicts that this stigma and DHV will lead to negative mental health outcomes for polyamorous individuals. However, recent research has begun to identify possible sources of resilience and strength within polyamorous populations, which may ameliorate these negative effects, as well as enhance satisfaction with CNM and quality of life. This study investigated these hypotheses in a sample of 1,176 polyamorous American adults utilizing structural equation modeling (SEM). Two structural models were proposed and tested, one for polyamorous resilience and one for polyamorous strengths. Four constructs were assessed as potential resilience and strength factors: mindfulness, cognitive flexibility, a positive CNM identity, and connection to a supportive CNM community. Results indicate that CNM-related minority stress was positively related to increased psychological distress, such as higher self-reported depression and anxiety symptoms. Mindfulness was found to have both direct and moderating effects on the relationship between minority stress and psychological distress, such that higher mindfulness attenuated the negative impact of minority stress. Cognitive flexibility also displayed direct and moderating effects, but in the opposite than predicted direction. Regarding polyamorous strengths, mindfulness was found to positively impact overall satisfaction with CNM as well as life satisfaction. In addition, greater connection to a supportive CNM community correlated with having a more positive sense of CNM identity, which in turn was related to higher satisfaction with CNM. Overall satisfaction with CNM was related to greater life satisfaction. Clinical and research implications of these findings are discussed, with an emphasis on improving cultural competence for clinicians working with this unique and under-served population.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Theodore, Peter S.
Commitee: Magalhaes, Cristina, Noviello, Nicholas
School: Alliant International University
Department: Los Angeles, CSPP
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 80/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Sexuality, Social research, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Consensual non-monogamy, Nonmonogamy, Open relationship, Polyamory, Resilience, Stigma
Publication Number: 10841959
ISBN: 978-0-438-36852-1
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