Homophobia is more pronounced in individuals who harbor unacknowledged attraction towards the same sex, and who grew up in authoritarian households where parents forbade such desires, according to a new series of psychology studies.
The study provides new empirical evidence to support the theory that the aversion and hostility that some “seemingly heterosexual people” hold toward gays and lesbians is often the manifestation of of their own repressed same-sex desires.
“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,” explains Netta Weinstein, a lecturer at the University of Essex and the study’s lead author.
“In many cases these are people who are at war with themselves and they are turning this internal conflict outward,” adds co-author Richard Ryan, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester who helped direct the research.
The findings may help to explain the personal dynamics behind some bullying and hate crimes directed at gays and lesbians, the authors argue. Media coverage of gay-related hate crimes suggests that attackers often perceive some level of threat from homosexuals. People in denial about their sexual orientation may lash out because gay targets threaten and bring this internal conflict to the forefront, the authors write.More: Science Daily →
Researchers believe the results also support the more modern self-determination theory, which links controlling parenting to poorer self-acceptance and difficulty valuing oneself unconditionally.
The study represents four separate experiments conducted in the U.S. and Germany, each of which involved an average of 160 college students.