Sunday, January 21, 2018

Studying Gay and Straight Males' Implicit Gender Attitudes to Understand Previously Found Gender Differences in Implicit In-Group Bias

Studying Gay and Straight Males' Implicit Gender Attitudes to Understand Previously Found Gender Differences in Implicit In-Group Bias. Yvonne Emig, Oyvind Jorgensen. Current Research in Social Psychology 25, 8, 1.

Abstract: Previous research shows that men overall, in contrast to women, do not show a typical implicit in-group preference. One proposed explanation is greater interest in sex among males. If so, then gay males should show an implicit preference for males whereas straight males should prefer females. We tested this hypothesis using a modified version of the Brief Implicit Association Test on 38 gay and 65 straight males. The hypothesis was supported. As the majority of participants in previous studies on implicit gender attitudes are expected to be straight, this could contribute to the low implicit in-group bias among males.

Several explanations have been proposed in the literature for the lack of implicit in-group bias among men. One possible explanation for men's intergroup attitudes is maternal bonding, which takes into account that children usually spend more time with the mother and therefore tend to favor their mother over the father (Rudman & Goodwin, 2004). This may be important because many implicit attitudes may be formed through early experiences in the childhood (Rudman, 2004; Skowronski & Lawrence, 2001). Accordingly, Dunham et al. (2015) found that men's gender attitudes change over their lifespan; while 5-year old boys still prefer their own gender, adult men tend to show stronger positive implicit attitudes toward women (Dunham et al., 2015). Perceived threat and stronger association of men with violence are other possible factors, which could explain men's implicit gender associations (Dunham et al., 2015; Rudman & Goodwin, 2004). As men are usually strongly associated with physical threat (such as violence and aggression), men may prefer the less-threatening gender women (Rudman & Goodwin, 2004).

One factor explaining the differences in implicit gender attitudes among men and women could be sexuality. There are gender differences in regard to which stimuli (female or male) cause sexual arousal. While heterosexual women in general tend to be aroused by pictures of men and women, heterosexual men are usually solely aroused by pictures of women (Chivers, Seto, & Blanchard, 2007). Other general differences between men and women seem to be on which behavior they are focused on (e.g. on copulation or a larger scope of activities) and which type of sexual activity arouses them most (Fisher, Aron, Mashek, & Brown, 2002). Sex drive, defined as the strength of motivation for sex, is found to be either more constant (Fisher et al., 2002) or generally stronger (Baumeister, 2000; Baumeister, Catanese, & Vohs, 2001; Peplau, 2003) in men than in women, which could explain why (heterosexual) men do not favor men on implicit associations and why (heterosexual) women do not show pro-male bias. Liking sex was, in Rudman and Goodwin's (2004) study, a predictor of in-group bias among sexually experienced men. However, the sexual explanations (such as liking sex or number of sexual encounters) would not explain a man's lack of in-group bias if this man were gay. So, in the present study, we test whether sexual orientation (gay or straight) is related to implicit gender attitudes among men. In accordance with a sex drive explanation, we expect straight males to show a stronger implicit preference for females than males compared to gay men.