Study: Authoritarian Parenting and Sexual Confusion Lead to Homophobia
A new study from the University of Rochester claims that "homophobia is more pronounced in individuals with an unacknowledged attraction to the same sex and who grew up with authoritarian parents."
The study, which was conducted in the U.S. and in Germany and tested 160 college students, provided evidence that some anti-gay feelings come from "repressed sexual desires they feel towards their own gender," International Business Times states.
"Individuals who identify as straight but in psychological tests show a strong attraction to the same sex may be threatened by gays and lesbians because homosexuals remind them of similar tendencies within themselves," Netta Weinstein, a lecturer at the University of Essex and the study's lead author said.
"In many cases these are people who are at war with themselves and they are turning this internal conflict outward," co-author Richard Ryan, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester who helped direct the research said.
The findings also show that controlling parenting is linked to poorer self-acceptance and "difficulty valuing oneself unconditionally."
The study explained the "personal dynamics" of why people bully and commit hate crimes towards the LGBT community as well. "People in denial about their sexual orientation may lash out because gay targets threaten and bring this internal conflict to the forefront," the authors of the study write.
"We laugh at or make fun of such blatant hypocrisy, but in a real way, these people may often themselves be victims of repression and experience exaggerated feelings of threat," says Ryan. "Homophobia is not a laughing matter. It can sometimes have tragic consequences."
The test measured student's explicit and implicit sexual attraction during a split-second activity that examined how they reacted to different words and images that were connected with sexual associations.
The students also discussed the type of parenting they had growing up. The subjects were asked to agree or disagree with statements, such as "I felt controlled and pressured in certain ways," and "I felt free to be who I am."
Those who said they were straight but reported homosexual tendencies during the test, were more likely to be aggressive towards gays, the study found.
"This study shows that if you are feeling that kind of visceral reaction to an out-group, ask yourself, 'Why?'" says Ryan. "Those intense emotions should serve as a call to self-reflection."