A new study conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Rochester, the University of Essex, England, and the University of California in Santa Barbara, shows that homophobia is more pronounced in people who refuse to accept their same-sex desires and have grown up in an environment where such desires were strictly forbidden.
Science Daily quoted Netta Weinstein, a lecturer at the University of Essex and the study’s lead author: “Individuals who identify as straight but in psychological tests show a strong attraction to the same sex may be threatened by gays and lesbians because homosexuals remind them of similar tendencies within themselves.” “In many cases these are people who are at war with themselves and they are turning this internal conflict outward,” co-author Richard Ryan, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester who helped direct the research, explained.
Researchers conducted four separate experiments, with an average of 160 college students involved in each study and measured the discrepancies in what they reported and what was their reaction during split-second timed tasks. “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 study concludes. It also reveals that participants who had authoritarian parents showed the maximum discrepancy in reporting about their sexual attraction.
“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 research will be published in the April issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.