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There have been many factors that have been shown to correlate with homophobia. According to Brian Laythe (1999), religiosity is one of those factors. Participants in his study were given surveys to measure the amount of fundamentalism, authoritarianism, racism, and homosexual prejudice that they exhibited. He found that there was a positive correlation between fundamentalism, authoritarianism, and homosexual prejudice. A positive correlation was found between authoritarianism and all of the other factors. The results of this study suggested that people belonging to the more conservative, authoritarian religions were more likely to exhibit homophobia. One possible reason for this correlation is a religious belief that homosexuality is a sin. Many religions believe that homosexuality is a sin, and in the more authoritarian groups it would be harder to hold a different opinion of your own. Along with religiosity; sexism, racism, and sexual conservatism also seem to correlate with homophobia. Along with religious conservatism, sexual conservatism also seems to correlate with homophobia, as does social prejudice.
A study by Ficarrotto (1990) found that, “ both sexual conservatism, as measured by an affective dimension of erotophilia-erotophobia, and social prejudice, as measured by racist and sexist beliefs, are independent and equal predictors of antihomosexual sentiment.” It would seem that different forms of prejudice seem to occur together in individuals. Rigid beliefs of different forms seem to make a person more likely to be prejudice towards homosexuals. The fact that racism seems to be linked to homophobia would make it surprising if African Americans were shown to express more homophobia than Caucasians.
Many studies have shown that African Americans have a higher tendency to be homophobic than Whites, but a recent study (Negy & Eisenman, 2005) found that when other things, such as religiosity, were factored in the differences went away. African Americans had a strong correlation with religiosity. Another long-held factor, gender, was shown to have an effect. Men have been shown to score higher for homophobia than women. Along with the need to identify factors that may contribute to homophobia, it is important to define what homophobia is.
One dictionary definition of homophobia is fear or contempt for lesbians and gay men, and for the purpose of this study that will be the definition used. A study by Wright, Adams, and Bernat (1999) set out to define homophobia and create a survey that would encompass that definition. They created the Homophobic Scale which assesses homophobia on a cognitive, behavioral, and a affective level. In developing their scale they found that there was a negative correlation between education and homophobia. The participants with more education were less homophobic than those that had less education. One possible reason for this is that people with less education tend to have less income. People with less income and education tend to have less opportunities and a harder time in general. When people have a hard time in life they may look for someone else to blame, a scapegoat of sorts. The purpose of this study was to find out if there was a correlation between education, income, and homophobia. The study was done on college students with similar education levels, so the study was done on the effect of their parent’s education and income levels on the student’s homophobia.
The participants for this study came from a Psychology 101 class at a Midwestern University. Participation was voluntary and completely confidential. Participants were given extra credit that was offered by their professor. There was a wide range of ages, from 16 years old to 52 years old. There were a total of 52 participants, 19 of which were male, and 33 of which were female.
The participants were given the Homophobic Scale developed by Wright, Adams, and Bernat (1999). Participants were also asked what the income and education of their parents was, their gender, their age, and their religion. A copy of the proposed survey is included in the appendix.
The surveys were given to the participants in their Psychology 101 class at 9:30 am. Participants were instructed that their participation was totally voluntary and completely confidential. They were told to write their name on a paper attached to the survey and then detach it to give to their professor. The only purpose of the paper was to allow their professor to give them extra credit points. The data was then collected on their responses.
A one-way ANOVA comparing the scores on the Homophobic Scale to the income level that the participants reported for their parents was computed. The difference approached significance (F( 2,46) = 2.935, p = .06). While the difference between the scores on the Homophobic Scale and the income reported were not significant, they showed a trend towards significance.
The score on the Homophobic Scale was compared to the religion of the participants using a one-way ANOVA. No significant difference was found (F( 4,46) = 1.542, p > .05). The scores on the Homophobic Scale did not differ significantly depending on the religion reported.
One of the possible problems with this study was the way that the income and education questions were worded. Participants were simply asked whether their parents income and education was low, medium, or high. These choices probably were not specific enough. Participants should have been given specific examples of what low, medium and high were. Dollar amounts should have been given for the income question and specific levels of education for the education question.
Another possible problem with this study was the scoring on the Homophobic Scale. The way the instructions were worded the higher scores ended up being the non-homophobic answers. So, the participants with the higher scores on the Homophobic Scale were the least homophobic, while those scoring the lowest were the most. If participants did not read the instructions they may have assumed that it was the other way around. They may have given the most points to the statements that they agreed most with instead of the way that the survey instructions told them to, which was to give a one to the statements that they agreed most strongly with.
Considering the problems with this study, the results may not be very generalizable. It is hard to say how much effect the problems had, but without specific income and education levels given, the reported levels were entirely up to the independent interpretation of each participant. That interpretation may have varied greatly from one participant to another. It is also possible that the participants did not read the instructions, further confounding the results and making them unreliable.
Future research should be done with income and education levels given. It would also be important to have the scoring read so that the lower scores would be less homophobic, while the higher scores would express homophobia. Another possibility for future research would be to compare the income and education levels of the actual participants instead of that of their parents. In order to do that, it may be necessary to test participants outside of the academic area.
Laythe, B. R. (1999). Attitudes concerning religion: Relationships among fundamentalism, authoritarianism, racism, and homosexual prejudice. Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research, 4, 165-170.
Negy, C., & Eisenman, R. (2005). A comparison of African American and white college
Students’ affective and attitudinal reactions to lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals: An exploratory study. Journal of Sex Research, 42, 291-298.
Parrott, D., Zeichner, A., & Hoover, R. (2006). Sexual prejudice and anger network activation: Mediating role of negative affect. Aggressive Behavior, 32, 7-16.
Wright, L., Adams, E., & Bernat, J. (1999). Development and validation of the homophobic scale. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 21, 337-347.
The Homophobic Scale
This questionnaire is designed to measure your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors with regard to homosexuality. It is not a test, so there are no right or wrong answers. Answer each item by circling the number after each question as follows:
1. Strongly agree
3. Neither agree nor disagree
5. Strongly disagree
1. Gay people make me nervous. 12345
2. Gay people deserve what they get. 12345
3. Homosexuality is acceptable to me. 12345
4. If I discovered a friend was gay I would end the friendship. 12345
5. I think homosexual people should not work with children. 12345
6. I make derogatory remarks about gay people. 12345
7. I enjoy the company of gay people. 12345
8. Marriage between homosexual individuals is acceptable. 12345
9. I make derogatory remarks like “faggot” or “queer” to people I
suspect are gay. 12345
10. It does not matter to me whether my friends are gay or straight. 12345
11. It would not upset me if I learned that a close friend was homosexual. 12345
12. Homosexuality is immoral. 12345
13. I tease and make jokes about gay people. 12345
14. I feel that you cannot trust a person who is homosexual. 12345
15. I fear homosexual persons will make sexual advances towards me. 12345
16. Organizations which promote gay rights are necessary. 12345
17. I have damaged property of gay persons, such as “keying” their cars. 12345
18. I would feel comfortable having a gay roommate. 12345
19. I would hit a homosexual for coming on to me. 12345
20. Homosexual behavior should not be against the law. 12345
21. I avoid gay individuals. 12345
22. It does not bother me to see two homosexual people together in public. 12345
23. When I see a gay person I think, “What a waste.” 12345
24. When I meet someone I try to find out if he/she is gay. 12345
25. I have rocky relationships with people that I suspect are gay. 12345
Individual information for the purpose of this study:
26. What is your gender? A. Male B. Female
27. What is your age? ------------------
28. What religion do you belong to, if any? --------------
29. Estimate the income of your parents while you were growing up.
Low Medium High
30. What level of education did your parents have? Low Medium High
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