Doctor of Philosophy
Although reported prejudice toward sexual minorities seems to be decreasing over time, sexual minorities themselves continue to report many experiences of prejudice and discrimination. One potential explanation for this discrepancy in the sexual prejudice literature is that explicit prejudice is being measured in a manner that is no longer culturally relevant, as proposed by Morrison and Morrison (2003) in the development of their Modern Homonegativity Scale. Modern homonegativity (MH) is characterized by negative attitudes toward behaviours and policies that benefit LGBTQ people, rather than a negative attitude toward homosexuality itself. The present work aimed to further the field’s understanding of MH and the role it plays in the formation of attitudes toward others. In Study 1, participants read one of three character profiles, each describing a gay man who volunteered with a particular group: an LGBTQ activism group, an environmental activism group, or a local library. Participants rated the target higher on negative trait descriptors when he was an LGBTQ activist. Study 2, a replication and extension of this work that included straight and female targets, showed a more complicated interaction of participant gender, target gender, target orientation, and target activism. A brief third study assessed which trait descriptors were most commonly applied to volunteers in order to ensure the validity of the outcome variables. Study 4 extended Studies 1 and 2 with the inclusion of MH as a predictor and with a behavioural measure added to the survey. The data from Study 4 suggested that MH contributes to the formation of negative attitudes across conditions, but that it also interacts with both activism condition and orientation to create negative attitudes. This supports the idea that although MH does interact with behavioural information to produce negative attitudes, it also interacts with orientation to produce less favourable attitudes toward gay targets even when activism is held constant. Implications for further work on MH and sexual prejudice in general are discussed.
Summary for Lay Audience
Although prejudice toward the LGBTQ community appears to be decreasing over time, many LGBTQ individuals continue to report being the target of prejudice and discrimination. One possible explanation for this phenomenon is that the tools we are using to measure prejudice toward the LGBTQ community are no longer relevant or sensitive enough to pick up on new and subtle forms of prejudice. A new scale, called the Modern Homonegativity Scale (MHS), was built to address this issue and published in 2003 by Morrison and Morrison. This scale asks people about their thoughts and feelings toward LGBTQ-friendly policies and behaviours, rather than their thoughts and feeling toward LGBTQ individuals themselves. The current work aimed to test whether people who score high on the MHS only feel negatively toward those policies and behaviours, or whether identity still plays a role in their attitudes toward others. Across four studies, participants were exposed to profiles of fictional characters who were identified as either gay or straight, and who volunteered for either an LGBTQ activism group, an environmental activism group, or a local library. They were then asked to rate their attitude toward those individuals and sometimes to donate money to their cause. Results indicated that people who score high on the MHS actually used both identity information (straight vs. gay) as well as behavioural information (activism type) when forming their attitudes toward the fictional characters. This holds a host of implications for future research on modern homonegativity and prejudice in general.
Moroz, Sarah E., "Modern Homonegativity and LGBTQ Activism: The Role of Identity and Behaviour in Attitude Formation" (2019). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 6420.
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