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Antigay attitudes are typically conceptualized and measured as general condemnations of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals based on moral and value judgments. This view of outgroup attitudes is not unusual, and is in fact consistent with the study of most racial and gender based prejudices. However, unlike gender and race, sexual orientation is not necessarily readily identifiable and thus presents another potential source of negative attitudes. Specifically, fear or anxiety over potentially being mistaken for a member of the outgroup. The current work shows that after controlling for moral condemnation of homosexuality, fear of social contagion independently predicts a desire to avoid hypothetical contact with a gay but not straight person (Study 1) and anxiety in response to imagined contact with a same-sex gay person (Study 2). A third study tested whether a public affirmation of heterosexuality would mitigate some of the negative responding due to contagion concerns. Contrary to expectations, publicly identifying as heterosexual actually increased negative responding among participants who were low in contagion concerns. Results from these studies suggest that concern over sexual orientation misclassification is an important and unique predictor of responses to contact with LGB people.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Psychology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
E. Ashby Plant, Professor Directing Dissertation; Albert Stiegman, University Representative; Jon Maner, Committee Member; Mary Gerend, Committee Member; Jesse Cougle, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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