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Social contagion concerns, heterosexuals' fears about being misidentified as gay/lesbian, can lead to anxiety about and avoidance of interacting with gay men/lesbians and even public derogation of gay men/lesbians. Due to the risk of becoming the target of prejudice if misidentified, we argued that perceptions of others' prejudice would directly affect contagion concerns. Specifically, we hypothesized that exposing people to others' nonprejudiced attitudes can significantly reduce heterosexuals' contagion concerns as well as their anxiety about and avoidance of gay men/lesbians. In the first study, we demonstrated that perceptions of peer prejudice significantly contributed to contagion concerns, over and above one's own level of prejudice. In the second study, participants who were exposed to a nonprejudiced norm expressed significantly lower contagion concerns, anxiety about, and desire to avoid gay men/lesbians than participants exposed to a high prejudice norm. These results provide evidence that changing perceptions of others' prejudice can reduce individual contagion concerns.
Contagion Concerns, Gay/Lesbian, Perceived Norms, Prejudice Reduction, Sexual Prejudice
Date of Defense
June 19, 2014.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Psychology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science.
Includes bibliographical references.
E. Ashby Plant, Professor Directing Thesis; Jon Maner, Committee Member; Jesse Cougle, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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