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When Might Heterosexual Men Be Passive or Compassionate Toward Gay Victims of Hate Crime? Integrating the Bystander and Social Loafing Explanations

A Correction to this article was published on 04 April 2020

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Abstract

Compassionate feelings for people who are victimized because of their perceived sexual deviance (e.g., gay men) may be incompatible with support for heterosexual norms among heterosexual men. But, indifference (or passivity) toward such victims could raise concern over heterosexual men’s gay-tolerance attitude. Two classic social psychological theories offer competing explanations on when heterosexual men might be passive or compassionate toward gay victims of hate crime. The bystander model proposes passivity toward victims in an emergency situation if other bystanders are similarly passive, but compassionate reactions if bystanders are responsive to the victims. Conversely, the social loafing model proposes compassionate reactions toward victims when bystanders are passive, but passivity when other bystanders are already responsive toward the victims’ predicament. We tested and found supportive evidence for both models across two experiments (Ntotal = 501) in which passivity and compassionate reactions to gay victims of a purported hate crime were recorded after heterosexual men’s concern for social evaluation was either accentuated or relaxed. We found that the bystander explanation was visible only when the potential for social evaluation was strong, while the social loafing account occurred only when the potential for social evaluation was relaxed. Hence, we unite both models by showing that the bystander explanation prevails in situations where cues to social evaluation are strong, whereas the social loafing effect operates when concern over social judgement is somewhat muted.

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  • 04 April 2020

    The following errors were present in this article as originally published:

Notes

  1. See Table 1 for other demographic information across the research program.

  2. The other social groups included: Europeans, Africans, wealthy people, poor people, laborers, and professors.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education for a grant to the first author (grant #: FRGS/1/2016/SS05/UNIM/02/2). All opinions expressed in the article are the authors’ own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education.

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Correspondence to Chuma Kevin Owuamalam.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest in the conduct of the research presented in this article.

Ethical Approval

The research received ethical approval from the university of Nottingham Malaysia’s Faculty of Science and Engineering Ethics Committee, and meets the ethical requirements set by the British Psychological Society for the conduct of research on human participants.

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Informed consent was obtained electronically for all the cases that we analyzed for this article.

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The original version of this article was revised: The following errors were present in this article as originally published:

A question mark was missing from the end of the 1st sentence under the heading General Discussion.

The 5th sentence in the Theoretical Opportunities section read (incorrectly):

This is because (1) the common-in-group bond is likely weakened as a result of the of lesbian women who are so inclined…

Instead of (correctly) as:

This is because (1) the common-in-group bond is likely weakened as a result of lesbian women who are so inclined…

In the last sentence in the Theoretical Opportunities section read (incorrectly):

So, although the current findings provide a promising start, future studies could aim to test the derived assumptions directly, by, for example, extending our propositions to reactions toward lesbians and transgendered victims of hate crime such studies could also examine reactions toward norm-conforming versus norm-deviating heterosexual victims.

Instead of (correctly):

So, although the current findings provide a promising start, future studies could aim to test the derived assumptions directly, by, for example, extending our propositions to reactions toward lesbians and transgendered victims of hate crime. Such studies could also examine reactions toward norm-conforming versus norm-deviating heterosexual victims.

Appendices

Appendix A

Full list of items for the compassion toward the victimized LGBT community (COMP) scale.

Active compassion items:

  1. 1.

    COMP1 If the LGBT community needs my help, I want to offer it.

  2. 2.

    COMP2 I feel at peace with myself knowing that I have the capacity to help LGBT individuals fight hatred and discrimination against them, if called upon to serve in this way.

Passive compassion items:

  1. 1.

    COMP3 I pity the LGBT community, but do not think it is my place to help them.

  2. 2.

    COMP4 I feel sorry for the LGBT community, but I cannot pretend that I understand all the fuss.

  3. 3.

    COMP5 I don’t get emotionally wrapped up with the LGBT community’s problems even though I do care.

  4. 4.

    COMP6 I feel sorry for bad things happening to the LGBT community but It’s probably not worth the effort to try to get involved.

  5. 5.

    COMP7 Aiding the LGBT community is such a losing battle that only a collective effort can solve.

  6. 6.

    COMP8 I feel sorry for the LGBT community, but I do not know that any amount I offer to charities on their behalf can help to solve their problems.

Appendix B

See Tables 7 and 8.

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Owuamalam, C.K., Matos, A.S. When Might Heterosexual Men Be Passive or Compassionate Toward Gay Victims of Hate Crime? Integrating the Bystander and Social Loafing Explanations. Arch Sex Behav 49, 1693–1709 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-019-01592-y

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Keywords

  • Sexual preference
  • Passive and active compassion
  • Bystander reactions
  • Social loafing
  • Hate crimes
  • Sexual orientation