Field of Science

Homophobes are turned on by homosexuality

ResearchBlogging.orgUnfortunately I can't access the full length article of this one: Is homophobia associated with homosexual arousal?

But it is obviously too good to miss. The abstract reads:
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.
So, homophobic men are aroused by homosexual porn, and either they don't know it (hmmm), or they deny it (looking at you, Fred Phelps).

Adams, H., Wright, L., & Lohr, B. (1996). Is homophobia associated with homosexual arousal? Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 105 (3), 440-445 DOI: 10.1037/0021-843X.105.3.440


  1. This is an interesting paper, however the number of people tested is quite low. It would be great to see this done on a larger group. In their conclusions the authors note that "Because anxiety has been shown to enhance arousal and erection, this theory would predict increases in erection in homophobic men". Half of the homophobic men displayed arousal from homosexual porn, so this could explain their observation.

    However, as a gay man I should say that from my observations homophobic men who are secretly homosexual are common (sorry no statistical analysis here). It is quite weird, as they have sex with men, but don't kiss (because obviously it's kissing another man that's REALLY gay, not the sex.)

  2. Jared, that's a very interesting tidbit. Thanks for sharing. So, are there many practicing homosexuals (i.e., who have sex) who are also homophobes?

    As for the paper, I don't worry much about the statistics, which might be powerful even with those samples sizes (again, I don't have the paper). However, the anxiety causing an increase in penile circumference seems like a possible confounding factor.

  3. That's not a confound, that is the effect that they are looking for.

    They asked about arousal - that's different from asking about attraction to men in some romantic sense. A homophobic guy wouldn't be attracted to men romantically. They predicted arousal & found it. The more complicated question is how to design an experiment that can identify the SOURCE of the arousal.

    It's entirely possible that some men here might be initially aroused by voyeurism in a general sense, then be anxious about their own reaction because they worry that their voyeurism indicates a deep seated "true" homosexuality that belies their long-term functional heterosexuality. This anxiety then increases physiological arousal, and thus the data measured show the homophobic men to be aroused to a greater degree than non-homophobic men.

    Or, alternatively, some men here might be initially aroused by the novelty of sex they haven't had... or they might initially be aroused because they are men who genuinely experience sexual attraction to men.

    Still, anxiety induced by homophobic questioning of oneself would be just as powerful at affecting the physiological arousal state as it would be with any other trigger for initial arousal.

    Of course, it's also possible that some of the men are attracted to other men, are perfectly content with such and experience no anxiety over it, but choose to say that they are homophobic because it makes life easier in any number of ways. Then & only then would we expect that anxiety would play no role in the level of penile engorgement measured...and that would mean that the homophobia questionnaire cited from previous work is unreliable.

    Frankly, the homophobia questionnaire is much better validated and replicated than this study. Thus it is unlikely we're measuring uncomplicated lust for other men in the research subjects.

    In other words - the anxiety is what we're measuring as much as anything else. It's not the confound. It's the hypothesized mechanism of causation. To say otherwise would be to say that we don't believe in the validity of the homophobia questionnaire.

    Of course, this study is 15 years old - it's old news in a quite literal sense. I'm interested in what would make someone blog about it now.

    Perhaps we could measure the arousal of bloggers at reading different kinds of research studies & see if they are more likely to blog about those that arouse them most? ;-)

    In the meantime, I don't particularly care where homophobia comes from in the existential sense. I know it can be taught and I know that it can be unlearned. To the extent I wish to fight against homophobia, I don't need porn studies to inform my tactics.

    But frankly, I don't even worry about homophobia per se. If societal heterosexism ended tomorrow - no violence, no discrimination, complete freedom for the individual to choose whether to act on attractions, or not, without artificial consequences - and some straight person nonetheless developed (or retained) homophobia, that would be THAT PERSON's problem. Once they stop beating me with a stick, whether they *want* to beat me with a stick is irrelevant.

    This is complicated b/c people don't hurt other people unless they feel an urge to act on, but my point is that I don't believe in punishing thoughtcrime. Homophobia that is kept internal and not used to fire, harm, ostracize or otherwise unfairly remove agency from another person only harms the person who feels the homophobia.

    This is why we have laws against discrimination but not against feeling like one wishes one could discriminate. If all they learn is not to act on their feelings, that's enough that it's no longer my business. What they do with penile engorgement-measuring cuffs after that is entirely up to them.

  4. @Jared: Very interesting indeed, thanks for sharing. Actually, the paper is available online (found it via google scholar): Associated with Homosexual Arousal.pdf

  5. Alan, thanks for the link. Now I'll actually read the paper.

    Della: The reason I blogged about an old paper - apart from the fact that I only now learned about it - is that it's a result that very du jour.

  6. Tell me: who is this homophobic guy who's been subjected to to watch gay scenes he so detests? Who would betray its own principles in this way and would give himself freely to be subject to contradiction? I tell you: this "research" is a LIE !

  7. Let me put this another way: why not impose Gays to watch heterosexual scenes and them measure their arousal? Oh, I don’t think so! Because this will prove they are heterosexual deviants, which is what they really are!

    They say “hey guys let’s make a study to prove that homophobes are closet homos…
    oh look! A vague correlation: let’s draw wild conclusions.”

    100% hetero men can be uncomfortable with homosexuals. That just means they find boys kissing boys a little bit gross. it’s not questionable until they start building a career or lifestyle around their dislike of homosexuals. Because the 100% hetero man isn’t going to be thinking about homosexuals very much, the same way I don’t spend too much time considering the vagaries of steaming horse shit or penile-vaginal intercourse. When you’re getting spooked by homosexual specters left and right, endangering your children and your sexuality with their rampant gayness it just sort of tells everyone what you spend a lot of time thinking about (rampant gayness).

  8. As someone who was molested by one of these degenerates when I was only 6 years old & would have probably been murdered by said perpetrator if a group of people hadn't started down the path by the creek. Homophobia has absolutely nothing with being afraid you might be attracted to men. It is a fear/HATE of people with a deviant lifestyle. If you want to talk statistics and even more disturbing So YES I chose th be hetrosexual because sex with other men is discusting!

    1. But did you choose to think that it is disgusting?


Markup Key:
- <b>bold</b> = bold
- <i>italic</i> = italic
- <a href="">FoS</a> = FoS