Sex Roles

, Volume 79, Issue 3–4, pp 206–217 | Cite as

The Motivated Cognitive Basis of Transphobia: The Roles of Right-Wing Ideologies and Gender Role Beliefs

  • Arti P. MakwanaEmail author
  • Kristof Dhont
  • Jonas De keersmaecker
  • Parisa Akhlaghi-Ghaffarokh
  • Marine Masure
  • Arne Roets
Original Article


Transgender individuals challenge the traditional assumption that an individual’s gender identity is permanently determined by their assigned sex at birth. Perceiving ambiguity surrounding indeterminate gender identities associated with transgender individuals may be especially disturbing for those who generally dislike ambiguity and have preference for order and predictability, that is, for people scoring higher on Need for Closure (NFC). We tested the associations between NFC and transphobia in two studies using community samples from the United Kingdom (n = 231) and Belgium (n = 175), and we examined whether right-wing ideological attitudes and traditional gender role beliefs mediated these relationships. Confirming our expectations, we found that NFC was significantly associated with transphobia through both stronger adherence to social conventions and obedience to authorities (i.e., right-wing authoritarianism) and stronger endorsements of traditional gender roles in the UK and Belgium, as well as through stronger preferences for hierarchy and social inequality (i.e., social dominance orientation) in the UK. Our results suggest that transgender individuals are more likely to be targets of prejudice by those higher in NFC at least partly due to the strong preference for preserving societal traditions and the resistance to a perceived disruption of traditional gender norms. Hence, attempts to reduce transphobia might be especially challenging among those high in NFC. Nevertheless, prejudice-reducing interventions could incorporate techniques that satisfy epistemic needs for predictability, certainty, and simple structure which may have higher chances of success among high NFC individuals.


Transgender (attitudes toward) Transphobia Need for closure Ideology Right-wing attitudes Gender roles 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors disclose that there are no potential conflicts of interest (either financial or non-financial).

Human Participants

The research was conducted using human participants (who completed a survey).

Ethical Approval

Ethical approval was obtained from the University of Kent. The research also complied with ethics committee guidelines of Ghent University.

Informed Consent

All participants gave their informed consent to take part in the research.

Supplementary material

11199_2017_860_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 14 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arti P. Makwana
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kristof Dhont
    • 1
  • Jonas De keersmaecker
    • 2
  • Parisa Akhlaghi-Ghaffarokh
    • 1
  • Marine Masure
    • 2
  • Arne Roets
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for the Study of Group Processes, School of PsychologyUniversity of KentCanterburyUK
  2. 2.Department of Developmental, Personality and Social PsychologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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