LGBTQ individuals’ lived experiences of hypervigilance.

Sharon S. Rostosky, Matthew T. Richardson, Sara K. McCurry, Ellen D.B. Riggle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (SciVal)


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals are at risk for poorer health outcomes in part because of stigma, discrimination, victimization, and resulting trauma and stress. Stigma-related stress can lead to hypervigilance, or a chronic and pervasive state of alertness and readiness to respond to potential threats in the environment. The current study is one of the first to explore LGBTQ-identified individuals’ lived experiences of hypervigilance. In a brief online format, participants (N = 245) completed demographic items and were asked to describe their experiences of hypervigilance and its impact on their lives. Participants reported over 30 negative emotions that accompanied hypervigilance; anxiety, fear, and exhaustion were the most common. Negative emotional reactions occurred in public and private settings and with family, coworkers, strangers, and others perceived to be prejudiced. Participants self-monitored and socially withdrew in efforts to protect themselves from stress and risk of harm. Service providers and researchers should assess hypervigilance in LGBTQ individuals and examine the impact on health and well-being while working to combat stigma and advocate for protective and equitable social policies. Public Significance Statement—Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals described their lived experience of hypervigilance, a chronic and pervasive stress response to direct and indirect experiences of stigma and discrimination.They were hypervigilant for potential harm as they interacted in public and private and when interacting with certain family members, coworkers, community members, and strangers they perceived to be prejudiced against LGBTQ people. Hypervigilance was often accompanied by negative emotions and social avoidance/isolation. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Psychological Association


  • hypervigilance
  • LGBTQ identity
  • minority stress
  • qualitative
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Psychology (all)


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