Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Study: Homophobia is associated with... homosexual arousal

What we all knew based on anecdotal evidence - that the most homophobic people could be in fact ‘repressed’ homosexuals - has its scientific proof. With all its limitations, this study from mid-90s published by the American Psychological Association provides conclusions that all homophobes out there will - without doubts - be ‘thrilled’ to know.

Is Homophobia Associated With Homosexual Arousal?

(access to full research paper)

The authors investigated the role of homosexual arousal in exclusively heterosexual men who admitted negative affect toward homosexual individuals. Participants consisted of a group of homophobic men (n = 35) and a group of nonhomophobic men (n = 29); they were assigned to groups on the basis of their scores on the Index of Homophobia (W. W. Hudson & W. A. Ricketts, 1980).

The men were exposed to sexually explicit erotic stimuli consisting of heterosexual, male homosexual, and lesbian videotapes, and changes in penile circumference were monitored. They also completed an Aggression Questionnaire (A. H. Buss & M. Perry, 1992). Both groups exhibited increases in penile circumference to the heterosexual and female homosexual videos. Only the homophobic men showed an increase in penile erection to male homosexual stimuli. The groups did not differ in aggression. Homophobia is apparently associated with homosexual arousal that the homophobic individual is either unaware of or denies.


Meri said...

Thanks for the interesting post Mika. Apart from citing the abstract, i think it is also important to read the alternative explanation that the authors of this paper are citing.

"...Another explanation of these data is found in Barlow, Sakheim,
and Beck's (1983) theory of the role of anxiety and attention
in sexual responding. It is possible that viewing homosexual
stimuli causes negative emotions such as anxiety in homophobic
men but not in nonhomophobic men. Because anxiety
has been shown to enhance arousal and erection, this theory
would predict increases in erection in homophobic men. Furthermore,
it would indicate that a response to homosexual stimuli
is a function of the threat condition rather than sexual
arousal per se. Whereas difficulties of objectively evaluating
psychoanalytic hypotheses are well-documented, these approaches
would predict that sexual arousal is an intrinsic response
to homosexual stimuli, whereas Barlow's (1986) theory
would predict that sexual arousal to homosexual stimuli by homophobic
individuals is a function of anxiety. These competing
notions can and should be evaluated by future research..."

artmika said...

Yes, Mery, true, there are number of limitations and alternative explanations, which the authors provided in the Discussion chapter of this paper.

What is important to note is that both groups did not differ in the levels of aggression.

But more importantly and unfortunately, we have quite a few real life examples when the most homophobic politicians, religious representatives or ordinary people were caught in gay affairs or gay sex and were forced to come out ("outed").

While this does not prove that all homophobes are 'repressed' homosexuals, it provides a scientific explanation which could be applicable to at least some of them. I'd certainly welcome more well executed studies in this area.

Ani said...

Columnist Orhan Kemal Cengiz wrote a great piece yesterday about self-hatred, tying in the issue of homophobia as well as ethnic self-hatred. Well worth a read and serious reflection!

artmika said...

Agree. Thanks for the link, Ani. I noticed your & one Georgian blogger's tweets this morning, and favourited them to read later. Now that I have read it, I think it deserves separate linking on this blog.

Today's Zaman: Turkish nationalist discovers his Armenian roots, or dissection of hatred