9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN23 Sexuality

2009-09-05 15:30:00 2009-09-05 17:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 15:30 - 17:00 Open Session Building I, 1E10

What matters to prejudice? Attitudes towards homosexuality and their predictors in a sample of Portuguese university students

Results from the European Values Study (Ferreira, 2003) revealed greater levels of prejudice towards homosexuality in Portugal than in most of its European counterparts. However, the same survey verified a progressive endorsement of a "moral permissiveness" index (in which an item about homosexuality was included), especially in younger and more instructed Portuguese citizens. Thus, positive and supporting attitudes towards homosexuality may be found in younger generations.
In a first study, an instrument was developed to assess different types of attitudes towards homosexuality in a sample of university students. Following exploratory (n=384) and confirmatory (n=425) factorial analyses, two positive dimensions (comfortable interpersonal contact with homosexual persons and support of rights and visibility of lesbians and gay men) and two negative dimensions (heterosexism and considering homosexuality as a pathology) were identified. High levels of the two positive dimensions were found, whereas the perspective of homosexuality as a pathological disorder was lowly subscribed. The heterosexism dimension, a subtler negative attitude according to which heterosexuality is considered a more legitimate lifestyle, was moderately subscribed. Given this last result, Portuguese students could not be considered unprejudiced, as they also revealed a more subtle or "modern" form of prejudice, a type of attitude that has been observed towards other out-groups (e.g., Meertens & Pettigrew, 1999).
As life contexts influence attitudes, in a second study, the predictive power of socio-demographic variables (e.g., sex, age, parental educational level, having gay and lesbian friends, contact with scientific information about homosexuality during academic training) and personal variables (e.g., social values, gender ideology) in explaining students' attitudes towards homosexuality, was tested (n=409). The results are discussed taking into account previous studies about predictors of attitudes towards homosexuality. Implications for prejudice reduction interventions are also pointed out.
References:
Ferreira, P. M. (2003). "Valores morais: as noções de "certo" e de "errado" na transição pós-moderna." In: J. Vala, M. V. Cabral & A. Ramos (eds.), Valores sociais: Mudanças e contrastes em Portugal e na Europa., 95-122. Lisboa: ICS.
Meertens, R. & Pettigrew, T.F. (1999). Será o racismo subtil mesmo racismo? In J. Vala (Org.), Novos Racismos: Perspectivas Comparadas. Oeiras: celta Editora.