Dispatches from the Creation Wars

My friend Andi sent along a link to this study in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, which found that those who are homophobic are much more likely to be aroused by male homoerotic imagery than those who are not. The abstract is below the fold:

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.

Very interesting indeed. I don’t have access to the full text of the study and would appreciate getting it if any of my readers does have that access.


  1. #1 Mark Worthen, Psy.D.
    March 31, 2008

    First, before you question the methodology of the study, read it:


    (Thanks to FastLane for posting the link)

    Second, re: RagingBee’s post:

    There may be a bit of self-selection bias here: I suspect that a homophobe would not volunteer for this study if he were not, at least a little bit, atracted to the opportunity to watch gay porn and have his dick measured. There may be plenty of non-homoerotic homophobes, but they didn’t (and wouldn’t) volunteer to be studied.

    This is a valid question because the researchers do not state in their paper
    what percentage of the young men they asked to participate in the “lab portion”
    of the study refused or what percentage terminated their participation prior to
    completing the penile plethysmograph.

    I’m actually surprised that the Journal’s editors didn’t catch that omission.

    Third, this is clearly a preliminary study, which the authors emphasize in the
    Discussion section by highlighting alternative explanations for the findings
    (e.g., the anxiety hypothesis) and deficiencies in some of the measures (e.g.,
    the homophobia scale).

    While the classic psychoanalytic explanation to homophobia–it’s a result of
    denial, repression, and reaction formation to the homophobe’s attraction to
    males–makes intuitive and experiential sense to me, there are other
    explanations that are also possible.

    For example, in addition to the anxiety hypothesis, I’m not sure if researchers
    have ever ruled out male sexual abuse victims as a subgroup who might exhibit
    homophobia as a result of the sexual assault (by a male perpetrator).

    I looked for follow-up studies but couldn’t find any in a relatively quick
    online search. I’ll post them if I find any later on.


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