A few good (straight) men : uncoupling the effects of gender roles and sexual orientation on sexual prejudice toward army personnel

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


How do gender and sexuality stereotypes combine to contribute to sexual prejudice? This project was designed to determine to what extent gender and sexual orientation separately and jointly contribute to prejudice resulting from role-incongruity and whether such prejudice could be attenuated by appealing to shared cultural worldviews. In two studies, participants were asked to rate former soldiers on their suitability to be re-recruited into the Army. Study 1 (n= 155) manipulated the gender and sexual orientation of the recruit and found that both gender and sexual orientation were influential in ratings of the recruit, such that for the man recruit, being straight resulted in the most favorable ratings whereas being gay resulted in the most negative bias. For the woman recruit, sexual orientation did not systematically influence ratings. Results support either a role congruity or an inversion theory hypothesis. Given the recruit's resume likely triggered thoughts of death (mortality salience) in participants, Study 2 (n = 163) attempted to experimentally attenuate the prejudice against the gay solider via appeals to national and relationship worldviews. However, ratings were unchanged per the manipulations. Study 2 did find a positive correlation between amount of subtle prejudice and mortality salience. Implications for role-congruity theory, sexual prejudice, and applied implications for the military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy are discussed.




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