Sexual Orientation and Race Affect Likability [Study]

Psychological researchers at the University of Toronto have recently conducted a study about the effects of sexual orientation on impressions. The results of the study indicate that homosexual men may experience differences in likability based on race. Specifically, white heterosexual men are deemed to be more likable, but gay black men seem to have more likability.

One study featured 22 female and 9 male participants. The participants viewed 104 pictures of both white and black males, and the pictures featured both gay and straight men from both races. It is important to note that the participants were not informed that some of the pictures featured gay men. After viewing photos, participants were asked to rate likability on a scale from 1 to 7, one being not likable and 7 being extremely likable. Results show that straight white men were rated as more likable than gay white men, but gay black men were rated as more likable than straight black men.

Based on the procedure of the study, the results indicate that sexual orientation plays a role in rapid judgement of others, even in cases where sexual orientation is not previously known or stated. The researchers indicate that understanding the basis for the rapid judgment could help to reduce the impact of homophobia.

Another study utilized 36 female and 14 male participants. The same 104 pictures from the previous study were used, but the participants were divided into 2 groups. The first group used a joystick to approach white men by pulling the joystick towards them and avoid black men by pushing the joystick away from them. The second group used a joystick to avoid white men by pushing the joystick away from them and approach black men by pulling the joystick towards them. The group instructed to approach white men responded faster to the straight men in the photographs. On the other hand, the group instructed to approach black men had faster responses for pictures featuring gay men. According to researchers, this faster response could indicate the trends in likability indicated in the first study.

Neither study indicated the sexual orientation of the men in the pictures, so both studies point towards the formation of an impression based on uninformed sexual orientation, and judgement passed on gay men depends on race.

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