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Old 04-07-2012, 07:05 AM
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Default Is Some Homophobia Self-phobia?

I really wish I understood human psychology much better than I do. I've always wanted to write a fantasy or sci-fi novel, but could never develop characters that made any sense or would appeal to readers. My best buddy is a retired psych. He has written 2 books already. I edited one for him. I keep trying to convince him to write fiction, because of his knowledge of human behavior. He is a good storyteller, so that would work. He thinks fiction is a waste of time. He likes movies, but never reads fiction novels. So that is just not going to work. I'm the opposite. I love fiction, especially fantasy and sci-fi. Those authors are so clever to develop multiple personalities, politics, religions, communities, etc.

Anyway, I find this following research intriguing. I wonder how controversial it is in the rest of the community of psychologists. To me, psychology has always been controversial. I could never even understand why psychologist are called in when there is some mass act of violence, such as a school shooting. I'm not being mean. I'm just befuddled. Can't people work things out with their support network of parents and friends?

Homophobia is more pronounced in individuals with an unacknowledged attraction to the same sex and who grew up with authoritarian parents who forbade such desires, a series of psychology studies demonstrates.

The study is the first to document the role that both parenting and sexual orientation play in the formation of intense and visceral fear of homosexuals, including self-reported homophobic attitudes, discriminatory bias, implicit hostility towards gays, and endorsement of anti-gay policies. Conducted by a team from the University of Rochester, the University of Essex, England, and the University of California in Santa Barbara, the research will be published the April issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

"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 paper includes four separate experiments, conducted in the United States and Germany, with each study involving an average of 160 college students. The findings provide new empirical evidence to support the psychoanalytic theory that the fear, anxiety, and aversion that some seemingly heterosexual people hold toward gays and lesbians can grow out of their own repressed same-sex desires, Ryan says. The results also support the more modern self-determination theory, developed by Ryan and Edward Deci at the University of Rochester, which links controlling parenting to poorer self-acceptance and difficulty valuing oneself unconditionally.

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.

The research also sheds light on high profile cases in which anti-gay public figures are caught engaging in same-sex sexual acts. The authors write that this dynamic of inner conflict may be reflected in such examples as Ted Haggard, the evangelical preacher who opposed gay marriage but was exposed in a gay sex scandal in 2006, and Glenn Murphy, Jr., former chairman of the Young Republican National Federation and vocal opponent of gay marriage, who was accused of sexually assaulting a 22-year-old man in 2007.

"We laugh at or make fun of such blatant hypocrisy, but in a real way, these people may often themselves be victims of repression and experience exaggerated feelings of threat," says Ryan. "Homophobia is not a laughing matter. It can sometimes have tragic consequences," Ryan says, pointing to cases such as the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard or the 2011 shooting of Larry King.

To explore participants' explicit and implicit sexual attraction, the researchers measured the discrepancies between what people say about their sexual orientation and how they react during a split-second timed task. Students were shown words and pictures on a computer screen and asked to put these in "gay" or "straight" categories. Before each of the 50 trials, participants were subliminally primed with either the word "me" or "others" flashed on the screen for 35 milliseconds. They were then shown the words "gay," "straight," "homosexual," and "heterosexual" as well as pictures of straight and gay couples, and the computer tracked precisely their response times. A faster association of "me" with "gay" and a slower association of "me" with "straight" indicated an implicit gay orientation.

A second experiment, in which subjects were free to browse same-sex or opposite-sex photos, provided an additional measure of implicit sexual attraction.

Through a series of questionnaires, participants also reported on the type of parenting they experienced growing up, from authoritarian to democratic. Students were asked to agree or disagree with statements like: "I felt controlled and pressured in certain ways," and "I felt free to be who I am." For gauging the level of homophobia in a household, subjects responded to items like: "It would be upsetting for my mom to find out she was alone with a lesbian" or "My dad avoids gay men whenever possible."

Finally, the researcher measured participants' level of homophobia � both overt, as expressed in questionnaires on social policy and beliefs, and implicit, as revealed in word-completion tasks. In the latter, students wrote down the first three words that came to mind, for example for the prompt "k i _ _". The study tracked the increase in the amount of aggressive words elicited after subliminally priming subjects with the word "gay" for 35 milliseconds.

Across all the studies, participants with supportive and accepting parents were more in touch with their implicit sexual orientation, while participants from authoritarian homes revealed the most discrepancy between explicit and implicit attraction.

"In a predominately heterosexual society, 'know thyself' can be a challenge for many gay individuals. But in controlling and homophobic homes, embracing a minority sexual orientation can be terrifying," explains Weinstein. These individuals risk losing the love and approval of their parents if they admit to same sex attractions, so many people deny or repress that part of themselves, she said.

In addition, 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 studies showed. That incongruence between implicit and explicit measures of sexual orientation predicted a variety of homophobic behaviors, including self-reported anti-gay attitudes, implicit hostility towards gays, endorsement of anti-gay policies, and discriminatory bias such as the assignment of harsher punishments for homosexuals, the authors conclude.

"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 study had several limitations, the authors write. All participants were college students, so it may be helpful in future research to test these effects in younger adolescents still living at home and in older adults who have had more time to establish lives independent of their parents and to look at attitudes as they change over time.

Other contributors to the paper include Cody DeHaan and Nicole Legate from the University of Rochester, Andrew Przybylski from the University of Essex, and William Ryan from the University of California in Santa Barbara.

- Jim

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving." - Albert Einstein
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Old 04-07-2012, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by jfh View Post
I could never even understand why psychologist are called in when there is some mass act of violence, such as a school shooting. I'm not being mean. I'm just befuddled. Can't people work things out with their support network of parents and friends?
I know what you mean, I always thought it was over-kill. Back when we were kids, usually it was our parents and family members who comforted us and explained things when something bad happened. Unfortunately, it appears that the support network for children nowadays is very weak and vulnerable itself.

As far as homophobia coming out from within oneself, that sounds quite plausible to me. I never felt threatened, and could never understand why people would. I don't think they're interested in converting anyone. I had a good friend in high school who was a lesbian. She was a wonderful person, and didn't try to impose her sexual preferences on me whatsoever. Also, had a gay coworker, who was very nice and we got along very well.

I didn't grow up in a household where they were homophobic at all, of course in those days, the gay lifestyle was really toned down, many never came out of the closet to family or friends. Thinking back, there were a couple of folks in my neighborhood that were probably gay, but it would have been a guessing game back then, and really nobody was that interested in their personal business.
"We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanual Kant~

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Old 04-08-2012, 12:31 PM
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My issue with homophobia is it is redneck behavior. Most of the gays I know are all nice people. Also, I tell younger students who make homophobic comments that if they ever move to a city, the gay areas are where all the cool bars and restuatants are.
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