Right-wing authoritarianism predicts prejudice against "homosexuals" but not "gay men and lesbians"

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Can different social category labels for a single group be associated with different levels of prejudice - specifically, sexual prejudice? Some theorizing, and a pilot study in the present research, suggests that the label "homosexuals" carries more deviance-related connotations than does the label "gay men and lesbians." Given that right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) correlates positively with prejudice against groups stereotyped as deviant, it was hypothesized that RWA would predict greater prejudice against "homosexuals" than "gay men and lesbians" among heterosexual participants. Two studies supported this hypothesis and demonstrated that the effect was driven by both perceived threats to heterosexuals' values (i.e., symbolic threat; Study 1) and perceived fundamental differences between "homosexuals" and heterosexuals as social categories (i.e., psychological essentialism; Study 2). Implications for the factors that predict social categorization of and prejudice toward sexual minorities are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1177-1183
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Essentialism
  • Intergroup attitude
  • Sexual prejudice
  • Social category label
  • Threat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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