Extended Ex-Gays Study Presented at APA

The American Psychological Association conference just wrapped up. This morning I presented (with my co-author, Stan Jones) findings from the 6 to 7 year follow-up of the Exodus study. The study is a longitudinal and prospective look at efforts to change sexual orientation through involvement in ministries affiliated with Exodus International. The book covered the first 3 years of attempted change; the paper is the 6 to 7 year follow-up. Here is the pdf of the paper session (thanks, WT, for creating the pdf).

Here are a few highlights:

  • The current presentation provided an update on 63 subjects (a 6-7 year retention rate of 64%);
  • Data is provided on Phase 1 subpopulation (<1 year involvement in current ministry at Time 1); Truly Gay subpopulation (above the scale midpoint at Time 1 for measures of homosexual attraction, and past homosexual behavior, and previous gay identity); the whole population;
  • On multiple measures (Kinsey and Shively & DeCecco scales), subjects experienced statistically significant change way from a homosexual orientation. The change toward heterosexuality was not a strong as the change away from homosexuality for those who reported such change. Results for the Phase 1 subpopulation were not statistically significant;
  • Subjects did not report an increase in distress on average for making the change attempt. When changes were present, it was in the direction of improved psychological status (for the Whole population and the Truly Gay subpopulation);
  • Subjects indicated which category described their experience (the categories were created by the researchers at Time 3). Here’s the breakdown at  Time 6 by self-categorization:
    • Success: Conversion (23%) – substantial reduction in homosexual attraction and substantial conversion to heterosexual attraction and functioning;
    • Success: Chastity (30%) – reduced homosexual attraction allowing for chastity without distress;
    • Continuing (16%) – modest decrease in homosexual attraction but not enough to say successful; still attempting change;
    • Non-response (7%) – no change so far – unsure which direction to go;
    • Failure: Confusion (5%) – no change; no longer attempting change; not yet embraced gay identity; and
    • Failure: Gay Identity (20%) – no change; no longer attempting change; identify as gay (NOTE: not intended as “failure” in the true sense of the word; rather, with reference to stated goals of ministry);

Toward the end of the paper we discuss how to understand chastity from a Christian worldview, a more pessimistic view of the data (focusing only/principally on Phase 1 participants), and understanding the data with reference to sexual identity. The paper closes with noting the importance of putting information in the hands of the consumer and making a number of options available.

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