A recent study claims that people who express homophobic
attitudes have probably experienced attraction towards someone of
the same sex.
A report in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
claims that people who have oppressed an attraction to someone of
the same sex, or have not consciously acknowledged the attraction
themselves, develop a fear and dislike of gay people as a
The report is based on 4 separate studies conducted in Germany and
the US, each involving 160 college students.
Researchers from New York, Essex and California were involved,
according to the Daily Mail.
The research used words and images to quiz people on their
opinions and feelings towards homosexual relationships, and claimed
to examine conscious and subconscious feelings towards
homosexuality. Participants were also quizzed on their
Netta Weinstein - lecturer at the University of Essex who led the
study- said: "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,"
Richard Ryan, professor of psychology at the University of
Rochester in New York who was also involved said "these people may
often themselves be victims of repression and experience
exaggerated feelings of threat. Homophobia is not a laughing
matter," according to Science Daily.
Ryan also describes people who express a homophobic attitude as
"at war with themselves".
The study reportedly also found that relationships with parents
plays a large part in being open about sexual orientation.
Predictably, Weinstein claims that those raised in controlling and
homophobic families find it harder to admit their homosexuality,
whereas those with supportive parents found it easier to be open
about their sexuality.
However, the study -which will be published later this month- has
been received with some doubt.
Gregory Herek, a professor of psychology at the University of
California, reportedly described is as a "pretty big leap" to say
that the questions asked could reveal information about the
participants' sexual orientation.