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Bidirectional causal associations between same-sex attraction and psychological distress: Testing moderation and mediation effects

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Olakunle Ayokunmi Oginni, Kai Lim, Qazi Rahman, Patrick Jern, Thalia Eley Grant, Fruhling Rijsdijk

Original languageEnglish
JournalBehavior Genetics
E-pub ahead of print15 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This project was supported by the Zhejiang Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China (LQ20H120004) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (82101158). Publisher Copyright: © 2022, The Author(s).


  • Oginni et al_22 AAM

    Oginni_et_al_22_AAM.pdf, 944 KB, application/pdf

    Uploaded date:17 Dec 2022

    Version:Accepted author manuscript

    Licence:CC BY

King's Authors


Only one study has examined bidirectional causality between sexual minority status (having same-sex attraction) and psychological distress. We combined twin and genomic data from 8700 to 9700 participants in the UK Twins Early Development Study cohort at ≈21 years to replicate and extend these bidirectional causal effects using separate unidirectional Mendelian Randomization-Direction of Causation models. We further modified these models to separately investigate sex differences, moderation by childhood factors (retrospectively-assessed early-life adversity and prospectively-assessed childhood gender nonconformity), and mediation by victimization. All analyses were carried out in OpenMx in R. Same-sex attraction causally influenced psychological distress with significant reverse causation (beta = 0.19 and 0.17; 95% CIs = 0.09, 0.29 and 0.08, 0.25 respectively) and no significant sex differences. The same-sex attraction → psychological distress causal path was partly mediated by victimization (12.5%) while the reverse causal path was attenuated by higher childhood gender nonconformity (moderation coefficient = −0.09, 95% CI: −0.13, −0.04).

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