Disentangling the Differential Impacts of Stress on Risk-taking Behavior in Sexual and Gender Minority Youth

The prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) has become increasingly more apparent. As a result, the influence of these forms of trauma have been associated with a variety of negative outcomes. Sexual and gender minorities are disproportionately plagued with these experiences, predisposing them to higher levels of risk-taking behavior. Risk-taking is known to be exacerbated when in stressful situations, particularly in adolescence. The current study seeks to 1) quantify the incidence of ACEs in sexual gender minorities in comparison to heterosexual and gender binary identifying individuals and 2) test the relationship between ACEs and risk behavior.  I propose that a double moderation model would accurately encompass how the relationship between ACEs and risk taking is moderated by social stress. This relationship should differ by depending on whether someone identifies as a sexual or gender minority. 

To test these hypotheses, a group of undergraduate students would be given the CYW Adverse Childhood Experiences Questionnaire (CYW ACE-Q), to assess their ACE score. Participants will also take the Trier Social Stress Test to induce stress by requiring participants to make an interview-style presentation and complete a surprise mental arithmetic test in the presence of a panel of interviewers who do not provide feedback nor encouragement. Finally, participants will complete the Balloon Analogue Risk Task, an established computerized measure of risk-taking behavior. Research is currently in the literature review phase, which is being used to support and endorse the use of this model. 


Curtis Smith IV, Undergraduate Student
Departments of Interdisciplinary Studies, Psychology
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

About the Presenter

Pronouns: he/him/his

Curtis is a senior undergraduate researcher examining the impact of trauma on LGBTQ+ youth experiences and risk-taking behavior. After graduating, he is looking to attend a graduate program in Clinical Forensic Psychology. Through his research, he wants to encourage the use of evidence-based practices and inform desistance interventions for underserved communities. 

Attend this Presentation

Day Two (Tuesday, October 13th, 2020) | Session Three (8:00pm - 9:00pm)

Duration: 5 minutes

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