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Exploring the psychological and physiological impacts of digital microaggressions and hostile online climates on LGBTQ + youth


While scholarship has identified LGBTQ + youths’ increased risk of overt online victimization, specific forms and particular effects of covert prejudice and discrimination have not been examined. This study explored psychophysiological reactions to, and impacts of, digital microaggressions on LGBTQ + youth (aged 14–24) utilizing cross-sectional qualitative data (n = 1179). The Transactional Model of Stress and Coping was employed to inform study design and analyses. Microaggressions were depicted in a digital vignette and reactions were collected via open-ended survey responses. Analyses indicate that LGBTQ + youth frequently experience digital microaggressions. These experiences result in three main response types: (1) cognitive responses and coping behaviors; (2) emotional responses and coping strategies; and (3) physiological responses and coping strategies. Participants’ psychological and physiological responses to digital microaggressions included a variety of internalizing and externalizing appraisals and impacts, including identity-specific effects. Results provide knowledge on LGBTQ + youths’ experiences of hostile online climates, with the potential to enhance research and practice.

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Data Availability

In the interests of transparency, the datasets generated and analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


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This project is funded by a Partnership Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC #895-2018-1000).

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Correspondence to Lauren B. McInroy, Oliver W. J. Beer, Travis R. Scheadler, Shelley L. Craig or Andrew D. Eaton.

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The authors have no conflicts of interests to disclose. This research includes human subjects; informed consent (aged over 18) or independent assent (aged 14–18) was freely given by participants. This research received ethics approval from the [Removed for Review] Institutional Review Board (Protocol #: Removed for Review).

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McInroy, L.B., Beer, O.W.J., Scheadler, T.R. et al. Exploring the psychological and physiological impacts of digital microaggressions and hostile online climates on LGBTQ + youth. Curr Psychol (2023).

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