You have to love when scientific studies come along and help confirm what everyone should already know. This week, science has helped prove that yes, homophobic people are probably gay. A new study based on research in the U.S. and the U.K. has found people who fear homosexuality are more likely to have experienced attraction to someone of the same gender.
The study was based on a sample of about 640 college students. How do you accurately measure homophobia, you ask? No, it's not just how much you call stupid things "gay," or watch Entourage. An article on the study from UPI explains:
Students were shown words and pictures on a computer screen and asked to put these in "gay" or "straight" categories. Before each of the 50 trials, participants were subliminally primed with either the word "me" or "others" flashed on the screen for 35 milliseconds. They were then shown the words "gay," "straight," "homosexual," and "heterosexual" as well as pictures of straight and gay couples, and the computer tracked precisely their response times.
It's interesting to see how prejudice is being defined here as identifying someone as "other." I think that's an accurate description, though it is possible not to identify as gay because you're in denial, not just bigoted. But let's say "othering" someone measures potential homophobia — how did researchers measure how much you're repressing gay desires? Oh please please let it involve showing gay porn to frat boys.
A second experiment — in which subjects were free to browse same-sex or opposite-sex photos — provided an additional measure of implicit sexual attraction.
Via a series of questionnaires, participants reported on the type of parenting they experienced growing up, from authoritarian to democratic.
Finally, the researcher measured participants' level of homophobia — both overt, as expressed in questionnaires on social policy and beliefs, and implicit, as revealed in word-completion tasks.
The findings suggested that participants who measured as more fearful of gay people were also more likely to be attracted to them. Also unsurprising was a correlation found between homophobia and students raised by authoritarian-style parents.
The study's lead author Netta Weinstein breaks it down, in case you still don't see the connection. "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." Now if someone could please let Chris Brown know so he can stop being so angry all the time.