Outward signs

Kevin Lewis

August 08, 2015

Inferences About Sexual Orientation: The Roles of Stereotypes, Faces, and The Gaydar Myth

William Cox et al.
Journal of Sex Research, forthcoming

In the present work, we investigated the pop cultural idea that people have a sixth sense, called “gaydar,” to detect who is gay. We propose that “gaydar” is an alternate label for using stereotypes to infer orientation (e.g., inferring that fashionable men are gay). Another account, however, argues that people possess a facial perception process that enables them to identify sexual orientation from facial structure. We report five experiments testing these accounts. Participants made gay-or-straight judgments about fictional targets that were constructed using experimentally manipulated stereotypic cues and real gay/straight people's face cues. These studies revealed that orientation is not visible from the face — purportedly “face-based” gaydar arises from a third-variable confound. People do, however, readily infer orientation from stereotypic attributes (e.g., fashion, career). Furthermore, the folk concept of gaydar serves as a legitimizing myth: Compared to a control group, people stereotyped more often when led to believe in gaydar, whereas people stereotyped less when told gaydar is an alternate label for stereotyping. Discussion focuses on the implications of the gaydar myth and why, contrary to some prior claims, stereotyping is highly unlikely to result in accurate judgments about orientation.


Exploring patterns of explicit and implicit anti-gay attitudes in Muslims and Atheists

Joel Anderson & Yasin Koc
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Research into the relationship between religion and anti-gay attitudes frequently focuses on Christianity. We explored the role of religiosity dimensions, previous contact, and factors in the dual-process motivation model as predictors of explicit and implicit anti-gay attitudes in samples of Muslims and Atheists. The explicit and implicit attitudes of Muslims were more negative than the attitudes of Atheists. Explicit attitudes were more negative towards gay men than lesbians; implicit attitudes were negative towards gay men but were unexpectedly positive towards lesbians. In regression analyses, religious fundamentalism and extrinsic religious orientations (Study 1), and contact and right-wing authoritarianism (Study 2) were strong significant predictors of explicit anti-gay attitudes. Interestingly, none of the factors of interest predicted implicit anti-gay attitudes. These findings reveal a strong link between Islam and explicit anti-gay attitudes, but suggest that the relationship between religion and implicit anti-gay attitudes may be more complex than previously thought.


Concealable Stigma and Occupational Segregation: Toward a Theory of Gay and Lesbian Occupations

András Tilcsik, Michel Anteby & Carly Knight
Administrative Science Quarterly, September 2015, Pages 446-481

Numerous scholars have noted the disproportionately high number of gay and lesbian workers in certain occupations, but systematic explanations for this type of occupational segregation remain elusive. Drawing on the literatures on concealable stigma and stigma management, we develop a theoretical framework predicting that gay men and lesbians will concentrate in occupations that provide a high degree of task independence or require a high level of social perceptiveness, or both. Using several distinct measures of sexual orientation, and controlling for potential confounds, such as education, urban location, and regional and demographic differences, we find support for these predictions across two nationally representative surveys in the United States for the period 2008–2010. Gay men are more likely to be in female-majority occupations than are heterosexual men, and lesbians are more represented in male-majority occupations than are heterosexual women, but even after accounting for this tendency, common to both gay men and lesbians is a propensity to concentrate in occupations that provide task independence or require social perceptiveness, or both. This study offers a theory of occupational segregation on the basis of minority sexual orientation and holds implications for the literatures on stigma, occupations, and labor markets.


Sexual Orientation-Based Disparities in School and Juvenile Justice Discipline: A Multiple Group Comparison of Contributing Factors

Paul Poteat, Jillian Scheer & Eddie Chong
Journal of Educational Psychology, forthcoming

There is little data on whether school discipline or juvenile justice sanctions are directed disproportionately toward sexual minority youth (e.g., lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning; LGBQ) compared with heterosexual youth and even less on factors that may relate to such disparities. We tested for sexual orientation-based disparities in school suspension and juvenile justice system involvement, and tested a model linking students’ sexual orientation to victimization, punishable infractions (substance use, truancy, weapon carriage on school property), and disciplinary actions. Using cross-sectional data from the 2012 Dane County Youth Assessment, we compared 869 LGBQ youth to 869 heterosexual youth (a comparison sample selected through propensity score matching) in Grades 9 to 12 (60.6% female; 74.7% White). LGBQ youth were more likely to report school suspension and juvenile justice system involvement than heterosexual youth. We documented minimal support for a differential behavior explanation: sexual orientation-based differences on discipline were only weakly mediated through victimization and punishable infractions. Instead, a multiple group comparison showed that the paths from infraction engagement to discipline sanctions were not invariant for LGBQ and heterosexual youth: With higher rates of infractions, the odds were greater for LGBQ youth to have experienced punitive discipline than for heterosexual youth. Our findings underscore the need for psychologists, educators, and juvenile justice professionals to give attention to discipline disparities faced by sexual minority youth.


Does it Get Better? A Quasi-cohort Analysis of Sexual Minority Wage Gaps

Sean Waite
Social Science Research, November 2015, Pages 113–130

With few exceptions, it has been found that gay men earn less and lesbians earn more than their heterosexual counterparts. Most of the current literature has used single cross-sectional datasets to test possible sources of these wage differentials. This study adds to this literature by presenting a theoretical framework, grounded in gender theory, to explore: a) whether sexual minority wage gaps have attenuated over the last decade, b) whether wage gaps vary by age group, and c) if wage gaps vary with duration in the labor market. Using Canadian census and survey data, this study finds no evidence that wage gaps have attenuated for gay men and only small reductions for lesbians and heterosexual women, relative to heterosexual men. Wage gaps are larger for younger gay men than for older gay men, which may suggest a “coming out penalty”. The lesbian wage premium, vis-á-vis heterosexual women, does not appear at initial labor market entry; rather it develops with duration in the labour market.


An Exploratory Study of Young Adults’ Attitudes Toward Parental Disclosure of LGBT Identity

Jennifer Apperson, Sarai Blincoe & Jessica Sudlow
Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, forthcoming

This study examined young adults’ attitudes toward an LGBT parent’s coming out. Participants read a hypothetical situation and answered Likert-type questions regarding their acceptance of their mother and father if the parent disclosed a gay, lesbian, or transgender identity. Overall, participants imagined they would have positive attitudes toward the parents’ coming out, although attitudes were significantly more positive toward mothers than fathers, and toward a gay or lesbian parent than a transgender parent. Participant sex and beliefs in the biological versus environmental determinism of sexual identity predicted their attitudes.


An early sex difference in the relation between mental rotation and object preference

Jillian Lauer et al.
Frontiers in Psychology, May 2015

Accumulating evidence suggests that males outperform females on mental rotation tasks as early as infancy. Sex differences in object preference have also been shown to emerge early in development and precede sex-typed play in childhood. Although research with adults and older children is suggestive of a relationship between play preferences and visuospatial abilities, including mental rotation, little is known about the developmental origins of this relationship. The present study compared mental rotation ability and object preference in 6- to 13-month-old infants. We used a novel paradigm to examine individual differences in infants’ mental rotation abilities as well as their differential preference for one of two sex-typed objects. A sex difference was found on both tasks, with boys showing an advantage in performance on the mental rotation task and exhibiting greater visual attention to the male-typed object (i.e., a toy truck) than to the female-typed object (i.e., a doll) in comparison to girls. Moreover, we found a relation between mental rotation and object preference that varied by sex. Greater visual interest in the male-typed object was related to greater mental rotation performance in boys, but not in girls. Possible explanations related to perceptual biases, prenatal androgen exposure, and experiential influences for this sex difference are discussed.


In These Spaces: Perceived Neighborhood Quality as a Protective Factor Against Discrimination for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual (LGB) Adults

Alisia Tran
Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, forthcoming

LGB adults are at elevated risk for experiences of discrimination and related psychological health concerns. Surprisingly, research on the factors that may buffer against discrimination and its deleterious psychological effects in LGB adults has been limited. The researcher examined perceived neighborhood quality as a protective factor in the association between past-year discrimination and psychological distress (i.e., depression/anxiety symptoms) for LGB adults compared with heterosexual adults. Data were drawn from LGB (n = 431; ngay = 200; nlesbian = 102; nbisexual = 129) and heterosexual (n = 7,340) samples surveyed in an urban Midwestern county. Results revealed a significant 3-way interaction (Past-year discrimination × Perceived neighborhood quality × Sexual minority status; B = −.30, SE = .07, p < .001). For LGB but not heterosexual respondents, perceived neighborhood quality emerged as a significant moderator of the association between discrimination and psychological distress (B = −.32, SE = .06, p < .001). Specifically, discrimination was not significantly related to psychological distress for LGB respondents perceiving higher neighborhood quality, thus indicating a buffering effect. By contrast, the association between discrimination and psychological distress remained significant for LGB respondents reporting lower perceived neighborhood quality and heterosexual respondents. These patterns of results held when controlling for demographic variables and when examining the gay, lesbian, and bisexual subsamples separately. Results suggest that perceived neighborhood quality may be a culturally relevant protective factor for LGB adults facing discrimination.

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