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Do Homophobes Experience Same-Sex Attraction?

Do Homophobes Experience Same-Sex Attraction?

Are people with homophobia actually attracted to the same sex, but in denial about it? Past research has had mixed results, but a new study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine adds a new perspective.

Homophobia encompasses a variety of negative feelings toward homosexuals. Such feelings might include fear, disgust, or hatred. Homophobic people often discriminate against gays and lesbians and, in severe cases, act violently toward them.

A previous study suggested that homophobic men could be unconsciously attracted to other men. But measuring that attraction can be difficult.

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What do men's eye movements tell us about same-sex attraction and homophobia? (Click to tweet)

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In this study, the researchers measured men’s eye movements to learn more about same-sex attraction.

Thirty-eight men with an average age of 22 years participated in the study. First, the researchers assessed the men’s levels of homophobia.

Next, the men performed a picture-viewing task involving 20 images. Ten images depicted heterosexual couples; the remaining ten showed homosexual men. The participants were asked to rate the pictures based on how pleasant the images were.

The scientists measured how long the men focused on the people depicted in each image.

Men who were more homophobic tended to look longer at the homosexual images. However, this occurred only when the men had “impulsive approach tendencies toward homosexual stimuli (IAHS).” In other words, the men kept their eyes on the homosexual photos longer if they had an impulsive same-sex attraction.

The study authors explained that using eye movements could help researchers understand why some homophobic men are drawn to homosexual elements and some are not.

Resources

Anti-Defamation League

“Homophobia”

http://archive.adl.org/hate-patrol/homophobia.html#.Vzz-2ZErIdU

The Journal of Sexual Medicine

Cheval, Boris

“Homophobia: An Impulsive Attraction to the Same Sex? Evidence From Eye-Tracking Data in a Picture-Viewing Task”

(Full-text. First published online: May 2016)

http://www.jsm.jsexmed.org/article/S1743-6095(16)00319-2/fulltext