The Roots of Sexual Prejudice

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Principal investigators:

John B. Pryor

Illinois State University



John Ernst

Thomas More College



Sample size: 587

Field period: 4/6/2005-4/11/2005


We propose a 2 (Test content - Masculine vs. General Knowledge) X 2 (False Feedback - Threat vs. No Threat) design with attitudes toward gay men as the primary dependent variable. We predict participants in the Threat/Masculine Knowledge Test condition will display more anti-gay attitudes than those in the other three conditions. This is consistent with a masculine ego-defensive hypothesis. This design also allows us to examine two previously untested interpretations of our preliminary data. First, support for a general threat interpretation would emerge if a main effect occurs such that those receiving any sort of negative feedback express more anti-gay attitudes then those in the no threat conditions. Second, support for a masculine priming interpretation would emerge if a main effect occurs such that those in the Masculine Test display more anti-gay attitudes then those in the General Test conditions.


See attached proposal.

Experimental Manipulations

The experimental manipulation involves giving false feedback after one of two 15-item tests: masculine knowledge (e.g., questions about sports, etc.) or general knowledge (e.g., geography).


Attitudes toward gays as well as toward women and members of the Islamic Faith will be assessed using an attitude thermometer. Defensiveness regarding homosexuality will be assessed using two items adapted from Herekļæ½s (1987) attitude functionality scale and primary sexual orientation will be assessed in a single question.

Additional Information

See attached proposal for more information.


Shen, F., J. Longo, J. Ernst, G. D. Reeder, and J. B. Pryor. 2004. Threats to masculinity lead to endorsing anti-gay attitudes in men. Presentation at the American Psychological Society meetings, Chicago, IL.