Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage Linked to Self-Interest

Posted on September 22, 2016

Photo: flickr

"Many people who oppose same-sex marriage are uncomfortable with casual sex and feel threatened by sexual promiscuity," said David Pinsof, a UCLA graduate student of psychology and lead author of the study.

Such people often marry at a younger age, have more children and believe in traditional gender roles in which men are the breadwinners and women are housewives.

"Sexual promiscuity may be threatening to these people because it provides more temptations for spouses to cheat on one another," Pinsof said. "On the other hand, for people who are comfortable with women being more economically independent, marrying at a later age and having more sexual partners, sexual promiscuity is not as much of a threat because women do not depend on men for financial support." The researchers measured people’s attitudes, regardless of their accuracy.

People who feel their way of life is most threatened by sexual promiscuity tend to be socially conservative and strongly believe in traditional gender roles. Among them are women who prioritize family over career and who view their marital vows as sacred, said Martie Haselton, a UCLA professor of psychology and communication studies, and the study’s senior author.The researchers surveyed 523 men and 562 women, 27 percent of whom oppose same-sex marriage. In one part of the study, subjects took a test designed to reveal whether and to what extent they associate images of gay couples with words and phrases like "promiscuous" or "one-night stand." On sensitive topics, people often tell researchers what they think they should say, rather than what they really believe. This first test enabled researchers to avoid this problem because participants can't easily control or fake the results, Haselton said.

Participants were shown a series of words associated with the adjective "promiscuous" - such as "casual sex" and "one-night stand' - as well as words associated with “monogamous” - such as "faithful" and "loving" - and images of either gay couples or heterosexual couples. They were instructed to match the words to either "promiscuous" or "monogamous", while also categorizing the couples as gay or straight.

Participants were instructed to press a button whenever they saw a photo of a gay couple or a word associated with "promiscuous", and then to do the same whenever they saw a gay couple or a word associated with "monogamous". The researchers measured how quickly participants responded in each scenario.

"If you have a hard time disassociating 'gay' and 'promiscuous', it will take you longer to respond when 'gay' and 'monogamous' are paired," Haselton said.

The test showed that many people tend to strongly associate the concepts "gay" and "promiscuous".

Most importantly, on a seven point-scale from "strongly oppose" to "strongly support" same-sex marriage, Haselton was able to account for 42.3 percent of the variation in people's attitudes, and able to accurately predict their attitudes about same-sex marriage substantially better than chance.

To read the full article, click on the link below.

Category(s):LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender) Issues

Source material from Association for Psychological Science

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