Homophobia and violence : the role of negative affect and anger in anti-gay aggression
Parrott, Dominic Joseph
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Pertinent literature indicates that homophobia is the primary determinant of antigay aggression. However, the extent to which negative emotional states (e.g., anger, anxiety) contribute to this deleterious behavior remains unclear. The purpose of the present investigation was to examine the role of negative affect in anti-gay aggression. Participants were 165 self-identified heterosexual men who completed a two-part study. Part 1 consisted of participants completing a questionnaire battery that included the Homophobia Questionnaire. Part 2 consisted of participants viewing an erotic videotape and competing in a reaction time task against a fictitious opponent. All participants were randomly assigned to one of two erotic video (heterosexual, male homosexual) and opponent sexual orientation conditions (heterosexual, male homosexual). Aggression was measured by participants’ average shock intensity selected on the Response-Choice Aggression Paradigm (RCAP), in which, under the guise of a reaction time task, participants had the choice to administer shocks or to completely refrain from retaliating to provocation from a fictitious male heterosexual or homosexual opponent. Analyses revealed a significant positive relationship between homophobia and physical aggression among participants who viewed homosexual erotica and competed against the homosexual opponent. Within each of the other experimental groups, the relationship between homophobia and physical aggression was not significant. Results also showed a positive relationship between homophobia and increases in negative affect, anger, and anxiety among participants who viewed male homosexual, but not heterosexual, erotic material. Contrary to hypotheses, negative affective states were not found to mediate the link between homophobia and anti-gay violence. However, a pattern of positive correlations between physical aggression during the task and changes in negative affective states was found among participants who viewed homosexual erotica and competed against the homosexual opponent. No notable pattern of correlations was found between these indices and the other experimental groups. Results support previous findings on the link between homophobia, negative affect, and anti-gay violence and provide new data pertinent to this relationship. Specifically, in addition to a homophobic disposition, negative affect primed by exposure to homoerotic cues appears to play a critical role as a precursor to anti-gay aggression.