Monday, April 09, 2012

Homophobia Linked To Repressed Same-Sex Attraction

On Glee, the homophobic football player Dave Karofsky who taunted
and bullied openly gay Kurt Hummel eventually came out as gay himself.
In a recently published research study in the April 2012 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the authors make the claim that men who express homophobic attitudes are more likely to be trying to address an internal psychological conflict between their own innate same-sex desires and strong family disapproval of homosexuality.

Of course, this will not come as a surprise to most gay people who deal with homophobes on a regular basis. It is well-known that many homophobes spend a lot more time thinking about homosexual sex and homoeroticism than actual gay people!

In the Science Daily coverage of the article ("Is Some Homophobia Self-Phobia?") they summarize the study's results:
Across all the studies, participants with supportive and accepting parents were more in touch with their implicit sexual orientation, while participants from authoritarian homes revealed the most discrepancy between explicit and implicit attraction.
"In a predominately heterosexual society, 'know thyself' can be a challenge for many gay individuals. But in controlling and homophobic homes, embracing a minority sexual orientation can be terrifying," explains Weinstein. These individuals risk losing the love and approval of their parents if they admit to same sex attractions, so many people deny or repress that part of themselves, she said.
In addition, participants who reported themselves to be more heterosexual than their performance on the reaction time task indicated were most likely to react with hostility to gay others, the studies showed. That incongruence between implicit and explicit measures of sexual orientation predicted a variety of homophobic behaviors, including self-reported anti-gay attitudes, implicit hostility towards gays, endorsement of anti-gay policies, and discriminatory bias such as the assignment of harsher punishments for homosexuals, the authors conclude.
"This study shows that if you are feeling that kind of visceral reaction to an out-group, ask yourself, 'Why?'" says Ryan. "Those intense emotions should serve as a call to self-reflection."
The study had several limitations, the authors write. All participants were college students, so it may be helpful in future research to test these effects in younger adolescents still living at home and in older adults who have had more time to establish lives independent of their parents and to look at attitudes as they change over time.
We're looking at YOU, Brain Brown!

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