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18 March 2011

Homophobia a prejudice, not a fear

Homophobia is not an actual phobia because it's caused by disgust, not fear or anxiety, say University of Arkansas psychologists.

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Homophobia is not an actual phobia because it's caused by disgust, not fear or anxiety, say University of Arkansas psychologists.

No need for psychological intervention
To examine the emotions behind homophobia, they asked 138 people to complete a series of surveys. Study participants also answered three questionnaires that measured levels of fear and anxiety.

Statistical analysis showed a negative correlation between attitudes about homosexuals and measures of fear and anxiety. But the survey results suggest that people who showed homophobic tendencies also displayed conservative sexual attitudes, along with elevated levels of disgust and dread of contamination.

The study was presented over the weekend at the American Psychological Society convention in New Orleans.

The findings suggest that social conditions and attitudes, not psychological factors, are the basis for homophobia, the researchers say. In other words, homophobia is more akin to racism than it is to a phobia.

That means that attempts to treat or reduce homophobia need to focus on changing attitudes in social contexts, such as homes or schools, rather than through psychological treatment, the researchers add. - HealthScout

 
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