1 University of Edinburgh

2 University of Nicosia


Self-concept distortion has been extensively linked with decreasing mental health in gay and lesbian youth. Social context has been proposed to have a moderating effect on the development of a healthy self-concept. However, no good quality review has approached these concepts with regards to LGBT youth.

A systematic review was conducted on the relationship between social context and self-concept in gay and lesbian youth. Twenty studies were included in the review.

Quality assessment of papers yielded moderate methodological strength. Findings implied that social context has considerable influence on self-concept development. Discrepancies in assessment methods, areas of social context examined, and one-dimensional nature of examining self-concept interferes with drawing explicit conclusions regarding the relationship between social context and self-concept.

Positivity of social context is not conclusively relatable to positive self-concept development, and similarly, a negative context is not predetermining of self-concept distortions. Building on resilience factors of gay and lesbian youth, working together with families, and advancing and utilizing available educational and community resources should mitigate the strength of overt and covert heterosexism hindering healthy self-concept development. Further longitudinal and cross-cultural research will be necessary to provide insight into the mechanisms of associations.