A new study has confirmed what many of us have suspected for years: 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.
The study, conducted by a team from the University of Rochester, the University of Essex, England, and the University of California in Santa Barbara, will be published the April issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Researchers conducted four separate experiments in the U.S. and Germany, with each study involving an average of 160 college students. The implicit and explicit sexual orientations of participants were measured by how they reacted to words and images with sexual associations during a split-second timed task.
The findings may help to explain the personal dynamics behind some bullying and hate crimes directed at gays and lesbians, the authors argue.
"In many cases these are people who are at war with themselves and they are turning this internal conflict outward," says co-author Richard Ryan, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester.