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Perceived Erotic Value of Homosexuality and Sex-Role Attitudes as Mediators of Sex Differences in Heterosexual College Students' Attitudes toward Lesbians and Gay Men

Laura A. Louderback and Bernard E. Whitley, Jr.
The Journal of Sex Research
Vol. 34, No. 2 (1997), pp. 175-182
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3813565
Page Count: 8
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Perceived Erotic Value of Homosexuality and Sex-Role Attitudes as Mediators of Sex Differences in Heterosexual College Students' Attitudes toward Lesbians and Gay Men
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Abstract

Research on attitudes toward lesbians and gay men commonly shows that heterosexual women hold similar attitudes toward members of the two groups, whereas heterosexual men hold more negative attitudes toward gay men than toward lesbians. We tested the hypothesis that one reason for this sex difference is that heterosexual men attribute a high erotic value to lesbianism and that this erotic value ameliorates their attitudes toward lesbians. Fifty-eight male and 109 female heterosexual college students completed questionnaires that assessed their attitudes toward lesbians and gay men, the erotic value that they attributed to male and female homosexuality, and their sex-role attitudes. The sex differences in attitudes toward lesbians and gay men found in previous research were replicated and, as hypothesized, men attributed more erotic value to lesbianism than to male homosexuality, whereas women attributed low erotic value to both forms of sexuality. However, with perceived erotic value of homosexuality controlled, ratings of gay men were similar to ratings of lesbians for both male and female participants, although men's ratings of both groups were more negative than women's. Controlling for sex-role attitudes removed this residual sex difference. We discuss possible sources of the heterosexual male eroticization of lesbianism and implications of the gender belief system for understanding attitudes toward lesbians and gay men.

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