We are still inclined to regard heterosexual men as more masculine than homosexual men and single men as more competent than married men. This is the finding of a study by Mariana Pinho, a PhD student at the University of Lincoln, to be presented today, Thursday 8 May 2014, as part of a poster presentation session at the British Psychological Society's annual conference hosted at the International Convention Centre, Birmingham.
Mariana carried out her study in Portugal with Gabrielle Poeschl, an Associate Professor at the University of Porto.
In it the researchers asked 158 participants to evaluate a fictional man. His description was varied so that he was sometimes heterosexual and sometimes homosexual, and sometimes single and sometimes married; other facts about him stayed the same.
The researchers found that the man was evaluated as most manly when he was both heterosexual and married. Other statistically significant findings were that he was seen as being more competent when he was single (independently of his sexual orientation), and more feminine when he was described as homosexual (independently of his marital status).
The results also revealed interesting things about the 158 participants making the judgements. However he was described, the women amongst them were more likely to perceive the fictional man as friendly, were curious about him and interested in him, and expressed fewer negative feelings towards him.
There was also interplay between the characteristics of the 158 participants making the judgement and the different descriptions of the fictional man. Participants who saw themselves as more masculine were more likely to attribute a lack of masculinity and greater femininity to him when he was described as homosexual and also to express fewer positive feelings towards him. However, the way that participants saw themselves did not interact with how competent they thought the fictional man was whether he was described as heterosexual or homosexual.
Mariana Pinho said: "Our findings shed light on the complex effects of individuals' sexual orientation and marital status, on the way they are perceived and the emotions they elicit in other people. Increasing our understanding of the beliefs that surround homosexuality is a crucial step in the effort to reducing prejudice and discrimination."
Full poster presentation title: 'The effects of target's marital status and sexual orientation on social judgements and trait attributions.'