Prejudice by Any Other Name: Conditional Support of Gay Males by Heterosexuals
Type of Degreedissertation
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In U.S. popular culture, it is often easy to find both unambiguously supportive and unambiguously non-supportive statements in terms of the rights of sexual minorities. Although unambiguous attitudes are often expressed, among the U.S population, there are also statements that appear to fall within a sort of middle ground between positive and negative. For example, phrases such as “I am supportive of gay individuals, as long as they are not in my face” appear to indicate a type of begrudging acceptance of sexual minorities that is predicated on these minorities restricting their behavior. The current research was designed to explore how conditional support is similar to or different from full support and nonsupport. Participants (n=846) were first asked to identify which of four statements (full support, conditional support (two versions), or nonsupport) best fit their attitude toward sexual minorities. They were then exposed to two images of public displays of affection by gay males, two images of a gay pride parade, or two control images. Participants then completed measures of their affect, experienced disgust, and willingness to endorse negative attitudes toward gay individuals. The results provided evidence for the concept of conditional support as distinct from nonsupport and full support, with participants who endorsed the conditionally supportive statement being more likely to endorse negative statements than participants who endorsed the full support statement. Moreover, participants who endorsed the nonsupport statement were found to be more likely to experience disgust and endorse negative statements than were participants who endorsed either the full support or a conditional support statement. Results also indicated that conditionally supportive participants were significantly more likely than nonsupportive participants to report religious affiliation. Finally, results reinforced previous research which has found that nonsupportive individuals are more likely than fully supportive individuals to report being politically conservative, religious, and to have had contact with sexual minorities. Significant results were not found in relation to the manipulation.