Unifying Model of Sexual Identity Development

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The Unifying Model of Sexual Identity Development, developed by Frank Dillon, Roger Worthington, and Bonnie Moradi, is a sexual identity model that draws from previous identity models such as the Homosexual Identity Development Model,[1] the Life Span Model,[2] and the Model of Gay and Lesbian Identity Development[3] to create a model that can be applied to varying sexual identities.[4] Dillon, Worthington, and Moradi[5] described sexual identity development as dependent on three factors: biopsychosocial processes, individual identity, and social identity. The model uses five non-linear statuses that can be used to demonstrate individual and social identity.

Five Statuses[edit]

Compulsory heterosexuality[edit]

This status consists of an individual’s commitment to heterosexuality within the lens of the culture that the individual is a part of.

Active Exploration[edit]

This status consists of an intentional exploration of an individual’s sexual identity both cognitively and behaviorally.


This status consists of the lack of intentional exploration or commitment to an individual’s sexual identity.

Deepening and commitment to status[edit]

This status consists of an individual committing to a sexual identity that involves being able to better identify things such as one’s sexual orientation or preferences.


This status consists of an individual achieving a sexual self-concept.

Research supporting the Unifying Model of Sexual Identity Development[edit]

This model was developed by “teams of scholars working in various combinations over time to collaborate and develop ideas to provide empirical support for a new theoretical model”.[4]


  1. Cass, V. C. (1979). Homosexual identity formation: A theoretical model. Journal of Homosexuality, 4, 219-235.
  2. D’Augelli, A. R. (1994). Identity development and sexual orientation: Toward a model of lesbian, gay, and bisexual identity development. In E.J. Trickett, R.J. Watts, & D. Birman (Eds.), Human diversity: Perspectives on people in context (pp. 312-333). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  3. Fassinger, R. E., & Miller, B. A. (1997). Validation of an inclusive model of homosexual identity formation in a sample of gay men. Journal of Homosexuality, 32(2), 53-78.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Patton, L. D., Renn, K. A., Guido, F. M., Quaye, S. J., Evans, N. J., & Forney, D. S. (2016). Student development in college: Theory, research, and practice. John Wiley & Sons.
  5. Dillion, F. R., Worthington, R. L., & Moradi, B. (2011). Sexual identity as a universal process. In S. J. Schwartz, K. Luyckx, & V. L. Vignoles (Eds.), Handbook of identity theory and research (pp. 649-670). New York: Springer.

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