International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

Who’s the (Wo)Man? Complementary Gender Stereotyping of Gay Couples

Jojanneke van der Toorn, Yale University

Conference: ISPP 2011
Research Area: Social inequality and social change

One reason why people are uncomfortable with gay couples is because they violate gender norm expectations in romantic relationships. We propose that one way people might deal with this is by using complementary stereotypes. We hypothesized that to the extent that heterosexuals are uncomfortable with homosexuality, they will attribute male stereotyped characteristics to the one partner and female stereotyped characteristics to the other partner. In other words, they see one partner as ‘the man’ and the other as ‘the woman.’ Participants reviewed an online blog featuring two male travel partners who were either labeled as romantic partners (gay condition) or as colleagues (straight condition). Participants rated both targets in terms of their gendered personality traits (e.g., assertive, warm) and interests (e.g., car repair, shopping), and completed the modern homonegativity scale. Planned contrasts indicated that participants who scored high on homonegativity perceived greater differences in masculinity and femininity between the gay targets compared to the straight targets. No difference was obtained for participants who scored low on homonegativity. The relationship was, hence, (re-)framed to fit a heterosexist template by balancing gender stereotyped characteristics between the partners.