This study documented significant changes in prejudice toward gay and lesbian individuals among adolescents from the ages of 12 to 18 years. Moreover, in line with developmental theories of prejudice, there was substantial variability in these patterns, partially predicted by the gender and ideological beliefs (reflected by social dominance orientation [SDO]) of individuals. Boys reported higher prejudice at age 12 than girls. SDO also accounted for initial differences in levels of prejudice. Further, although prejudice toward gay men did decrease among girls over time, it did not decrease among boys. Prejudice toward lesbians decreased at similar rates for boys and girls. These different trajectories are explained within the context of gender socialization processes during adolescence. In addition, fluctuations in adolescents' own SDO corresponded with fluctuations in their level of prejudice, over and above those tied to age-related changes. This association was even stronger among those with overall higher SDO tendencies than others. However, SDO, when treated as a stable invariant factor, did not predict different patterns of progressive age-related change in prejudice. These results extend the research on sexual prejudice by examining it within a broader and more dynamic developmental framework, in greater alignment with developmental theories of prejudice.
- Prejudice, homophobia
- Social dominance orientation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Life-span and Life-course Studies