Although it may seem obvious to many, it’s promising to see that research is being done on this timely subject. Conducted by a team from the University of Rochester, the University of Essex, England, and the University of California in Santa Barbara, the findings from this study (Parental Autonomy Support and Discrepancies Between Implicit and Explicit Sexual Identities: Dynamics of Self-acceptance and Defense) will be published the April issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
The intention of the study was to examine the role that both parenting and sexual orientation play in the formation of intense and visceral fear and hatred of gay people, including self-reported homophobic attitudes, discriminatory bias, implicit hostility towards gays, and endorsement of anti-gay policies.
The findings? Homophobia is more prevalent in people who have an unacknowledged attraction to the same sex and who grew up with authoritarian parents who openly criticized LGBT people and culture. “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,” said Dr. Netta Weinstein, from the University of Essex and the study’s lead author.
“In many cases these are people who are at war with themselves and they are turning this internal conflict outward,” said co-author Dr. Richard Ryan, the professor of psychology at the University of Rochester.
The study’s findings bring new empirical evidence to the table that supports the psychoanalytic theory that the fear, anxiety, and aversion that many seemingly heterosexual people hold toward gays and lesbians actually stems from their own repressed same-sex attractions and desires.