Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 41, Issue 5, pp 1293–1302 | Cite as

Effects of Gender-Related Domain Violations and Sexual Orientation on Perceptions of Male and Female Targets: An Analogue Study

  • Aaron J. BlashillEmail author
  • Kimberly K. Powlishta
Original Paper


The current study examined factors that influenced heterosexual male and female raters’ evaluations of male and female targets who were gay or heterosexual, and who displayed varying gender roles (i.e., typical vs. atypical) in multiple domains (i.e., activities, traits, and appearance). Participants were 305 undergraduate students from a private, midwestern Jesuit institution who read vignettes describing one of 24 target types and then rated the target on possession of positive and negative characteristics, psychological adjustment, and on measures reflecting the participants’ anticipated behavior toward or comfort with the target. Results showed that gender atypical appearance and activity attributes (but not traits) were viewed more negatively than their gender typical counterparts. It was also found that male participants in particular viewed gay male targets as less desirable than lesbian and heterosexual male targets. These findings suggest a nuanced approach for understanding sexual prejudice, which incorporates a complex relationship among sex, gender, sexual orientation, and domain of gendered attributes.


Sexual orientation Sexual prejudice Gender role violations Masculinity Femininity Gender atypicality 


  1. Blashill, A. J., & Powlishta, K. K. (2009a). Gay stereotypes: The use of sexual orientation as a cue for gender-related attributes. Sex Roles, 61, 783–793.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Blashill, A. J., & Powlishta, K. K. (2009b). The impact of sexual orientation and gender role on evaluations of men. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 10, 160–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Boysen, G. A., Vogel, D. L., Madon, S., & Wester, S. R. (2006). Mental health stereotypes about gay men. Sex Roles, 54, 69–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. David, B., Grace, D., & Ryan, M. K. (2004). The gender wars: A self-categorization perspective on the development of gender identity. In M. Bennett & F. Sani (Eds.), The development of the social self (pp. 138–158). New York: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  5. Finlay, B., & Walther, C. S. (2003). The relation of religious affiliation, service attendance, and other factors to homophobic attitudes among university students. Review of Religious Research, 44, 370–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hatzenbuehler, M. L., McLaughlin, K. A., Keyes, K. M., & Hasin, D. S. (2010). The impact of institutional discrimination on psychiatric disorders in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: A prospective study. American Journal of Public Health, 100, 452–459.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Herek, G. M. (1984). Beyond “homophobia”: A social psychological perspective on attitudes toward lesbians and gay men. Journal of Homosexuality, 10, 1–21.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Herek, G. M. (1988). Heterosexuals’ attitudes toward lesbians and gay men: Correlates and gender differences. Journal of Sex Research, 25, 451–477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Herek, G. M. (1994). Assessing attitudes toward lesbians and gay men: A review of empirical research with the ATLG scale. In B. Greene & G. M. Herek (Eds.), Lesbian and gay psychology (pp. 206–228). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  10. Herek, G. M. (2000). The psychology of sexual prejudice. Current Directions in Psychology Science, 9, 19–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Herek, G. M. (2009). Hate crimes and stigma-related experiences among sexual minority adults in the United States: Prevalence estimates from a national probability sample. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 24, 54–74.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Herek, G. M., & Capitanio, J. P. (1999). Sex differences in how heterosexuals think about lesbians and gay men: Evidence from survey context effects. Journal of Sex Research, 36, 348–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Herek, G. M., & Garnets, L. D. (2007). Sexual orientation and mental health. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 3, 353–375.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Horn, S. S. (2007). Adolescents’ acceptance of same-sex peers based on sexual orientation and gender expression. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36, 363–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kerns, J. G., & Fine, M. A. (1994). The relation between gender and negative attitudes toward gay men and lesbians: Do gender role attitudes mediate this relation? Sex Roles, 31, 297–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kite, M. E., & Deaux, K. (1987). Gender belief systems: Homosexuality and the implicit inversion theory. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 11, 83–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kite, M. E., & Whitley, B. E. (1998). Do heterosexual women and men differ in their attitudes toward homosexuality? A conceptual and methodological analysis. In G. M. Herek (Ed.), Stigma and sexual orientation: Understanding prejudice against lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals (pp. 108–137). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  18. Klein, F., Sepekoff, B., & Wolf, T. J. (1985). Sexual orientation: A multi-variable dynamic process. Journal of Homosexuality, 11, 35–49.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lehavot, K., & Lambert, A. J. (2007). Toward a greater understanding of antigay prejudice: On the role of sexual orientation and gender role violation. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 29, 279–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Levy, G. D., Taylor, M. G., & Gelman, S. A. (1995). Traditional and evaluative aspects of flexibility in gender roles, social conventions, moral rules, and physical laws. Child Development, 66, 515–531.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Liben, L. S., & Bigler, R. S. (2002). The developmental course of gender differentiation. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 67(2, Serial No. 269).Google Scholar
  22. Lippa, R. A. (2005). Sexual orientation and personality. Annual Review of Sex Research, 16, 119–153.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Madon, S. (1997). What do people believe about gay males? A study of stereotype content and strength. Sex Roles, 37, 663–685.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mays, V. M., & Cochran, S. D. (2001). Mental health correlates of perceived discrimination among lesbians, gay, and bisexual adults in the United States. American Journal of Public Health, 91, 1869–1876.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. McCreary, D. R. (1994). The male role and avoiding femininity. Sex Roles, 31, 517–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Meyer, I. H. (2003). Prejudice, social stress, and mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations conceptual issues and research evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 674–697.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Parrott, D. J., & Zeichner, A. (2005). Effects of sexual prejudice and anger on physical aggression toward gay and heterosexual men. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 6, 3–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Parrott, D. J., & Zeichner, A. (2008). Determinants of anger and physical aggression based on sexual orientation: An experimental examination of hypermasculinity and exposure to male gender role violations. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 37, 891–901.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Powlishta, K. K. (1995). Intergroup processes in childhood: Social categorization and sex role development. Developmental Psychology, 31, 781–788.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Powlishta, K. K. (2004). Gender as a social category: Intergroup processes and gender-role development. In M. Bennett & F. Sani (Eds.), The development of the social self (pp. 103–134). New York: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  31. Powlishta, K., Watterson, E., Blashill, A., & Kinnucan, C. (2008, April). Physical or appearance-related gender stereotypes. Poster presented at the Gender Development Research Conference, San Francisco, CA.Google Scholar
  32. Ratcliff, J. J., Lassiter, G. D., Markman, K. D., & Snyder, C. J. (2006). Gender differences in attitudes toward gay men and lesbians: The role of motivation to respond without prejudice. Personality and Social Psychological Bulletin, 32, 1325–1338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rothman, E. F., Exner, D., & Baughman, A. L. (2011). The prevalence of sexual assault against people who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual in the United Stated: A systematic review. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 12, 55–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Schope, R. D., & Eliason, M. J. (2004). Sissies and tomboys: Gender role behaviors and homophobia. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 16, 73–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sirin, S. R., McCreary, D. R., & Mahalik, J. R. (2004). Differential reactions to men and women’s gender role transgressions: Perceptions of social status, sexual orientation, and value dissimilarity. Journal of Men’s Studies, 12, 119–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Taylor, A. (1983). Conceptions of masculinity and femininity as a basis for stereotypes of male and female homosexuals. Journal of Homosexuality, 9, 37–53.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Watterson, E. S., & Powlishta, K. K. (2007, March). Children’s evaluative reactions to gender stereotype violations. Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Boston, MA.Google Scholar
  38. Whitley, B. E. (2001). Gender-role variables and attitudes toward homosexuality. Sex Roles, 45, 691–721.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Whitley, B. E., Childs, C. E., & Collins, J. B. (2011). Differences in black and white American college students’ attitudes towards lesbians and gay men. Sex Roles, 64, 299–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wills, G., & Crawford, R. (2000). Attitudes toward homosexuality in Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana. Journal of Homosexuality, 38, 97–116.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryMassachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologySaint Louis UniversitySt. LouisUSA

Personalised recommendations