Sex Roles

, Volume 80, Issue 9–10, pp 548–564 | Cite as

Do Positive and Negative Stereotypes of Gay and Heterosexual Men Affect Job-Related Impressions?

  • Melanie C. SteffensEmail author
  • Claudia Niedlich
  • Rosa Beschorner
  • Maren C. Köhler
Original Article


Traditional gender stereotypes encompass (typically masculine) agency, comprising task-related competence, and (typically feminine) communion or warmth. Both agency and communion are important for successful performance in many jobs. Stereotypes of gay men include the perception that they are less gender-typed than their heterosexual counterparts are (i.e., more gay-stereotypical and less masculine). Using a German sample, Experiment 1 (n = 273) tested whether gay men at the same time appear higher in communion, but lower in agency than heterosexual men and whether a trade-off in hireability impressions results between both groups if jobs require both agency and communion. We measured participants’ willingness to work together with applicants, in addition to hireability, as dependent variables, and we assessed as mediators perceived masculinity, how gay-stereotypical male targets were judged, as well as perceived communion and agency. Findings showed that gay men appeared more gay-stereotypical, less masculine, and more communal than heterosexual men, but no difference in agency was observed. The direct effects of sexual orientation on willingness to engage in work-related contact and on hireability were not significant. Instead, both positive and negative indirect effects of sexual orientation on hireability/contact were found. Experiment 2 (n = 32) replicated the findings pertaining to agency, communion, and masculinity and demonstrated that a gay applicant appeared better suited for traditionally feminine jobs, whereas a heterosexual applicant appeared better suited for traditionally masculine jobs. We discuss who is discriminated under which conditions, based on gender-related stereotypes, when men’s sexual orientation is revealed in work contexts.


Attitudes toward homosexuality Personnel selection Stereotyped attitudes Agency Communion Employer attitudes Job application interview Discrimination 



The current research was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG, STE 938/11–1). We thank Felix Göttert, Inga Bette, Katharina Köhler, and Lisa Marie Wagner for help with data collection and Rebecca Aust for valuable comments on a previous version of this paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research Involving Human Participants and/or Animals

The present research was approved by the Board of Ethics of the Faculty of Psychology, University of Koblenz-Landau. Participants were treated following APA standards and the Declaration of Helsinki. Data were collected anonymously, participants were fully debriefed immediately after data collection and then decided whether they allow us to analyze their data or not.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained at the beginning of data collection. The respective German language form is available from the first author.

Supplementary material

11199_2018_963_MOESM1_ESM.docx (22 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 22 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social, Environmental, and Economic Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, FB 8-PsychologyUniversity of Koblenz-LandauLandau/PfalzGermany

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