This study investigated whether gay men and lesbians are assumed to have attributes stereotypically associated with the other gender. Participants were 110 male and female undergraduates from a private, Midwestern, U.S. university. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions (i.e., gay male, lesbian, heterosexual female, heterosexual male) and rated their given target on possession of traditionally masculine and feminine occupational interests, activities, and traits. Results revealed that, despite some changes in the status of gay men and lesbians in society, stereotypes regarding sexual orientation were similar to those seen in studies conducted 20 years ago. Specifically, gay males were viewed as less masculine/more feminine than heterosexual males, and lesbians were viewed as more masculine/less feminine than heterosexual females.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Ashmore, R. D. (1981). Sex stereotypes and implicit personality theory. In D. L. Hamilton (Ed.), Cognitive processes in stereotyping and intergroup behavior (pp. 37–81). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Ashmore, R. D., & Del Boca, F. K. (1981). Conceptual approaches to stereotypes and stereotyping. In D. L. Hamilton (Ed.), Cognitive processes in stereotyping and intergroup behavior (pp. 1–35). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Bem, S. L. (1974). The measurement of psychological androgyny. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 42, 155–162.
Best, D. L. (1982). An overview of findings from children’s studies of sex-trait stereotypes in 23 countries. In R. Rath & J. B. H. Sinha (Eds.), Diversity and unity in cross-cultural psychology (pp. 261–271). Amsterdam: Swets and Zeitlinger.
Bigler, R. S., & Liben, L. S. (1990). The role of attitudes and interventions in gender-schematic processing. Child Development, 61, 1440–1452.
Bigler, R. S., & Liben, L. S. (1992). Cognitive mechanisms in children’s gender stereotyping: theoretical and educational implications of a cognitive-based intervention. Child Development, 63, 1351–1363.
Blair, I. V. (2002). The malleability of automatic stereotypes and prejudice. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 6, 242–261.
Blakemore, J. E. (1999, April). Adults’ attitudes about children’s gender norm transgressions. Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for the Research in Child Development, Albuquerque, NM.
Blakemore, J. E. (2003). Children’s beliefs about violating gender norms: boys shouldn’t look like girls, and girls shouldn’t act like boys. Sex Roles, 48, 411–419.
Blashill, A. J., & Powlishta, K. K. (2009). The impact of gender role and sexual orientation on evaluations of men. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 10, 160–173.
Bosson, J. K., Prewitt-Freilino, J. L., & Taylor, J. N. (2005). Role rigidity: a problem of identity misclassification? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 552–565.
D’Augelli, A. R., Pilkington, N. W., & Hershberger, S. L. (2002). Incidence and mental health impact of sexual orientation victimization of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths in high school. School Psychology Quarterly, 17, 148–167.
Deaux, K., & Lewis, L. L. (1984). Structure of gender stereotypes: interrelationships among components and gender label. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 991–1004.
Devine, P. G. (1989). Stereotypes and prejudice: their automatic and controlled components. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 5–18.
Eliason, M., Donelan, C., & Randall, C. (1992). Lesbian stereotypes. Health Care for Women International, 13, 131–144.
Fagot, B. I. (1977). Consequences of moderate cross-gender behavior in preschool children. Child Development, 48, 902–207.
Gawronski, B., Deutsch, R., Mbirkou, S., Seibt, B., & Strack, F. (2008). When “Just Say No” is not enough: affirmation versus negation training and the reduction of automatic stereotype activation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 370–377.
Geiger, W., Harwood, J., & Hummert, M. L. (2006). College students’ multiple stereotypes of lesbians: a cognitive perspective. Journal of Homosexuality, 51, 165–182.
Herek, G. M. (2002). Gender gaps in public opinion and lesbians and gay men. Public Opinion Quarterly, 66, 40–66.
Herek, G. M., & Garnets, L. D. (2007). Sexual orientation and mental health. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 3, 353–375.
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.
Kite, M. E., & Deaux, K. (1987). Gender belief systems: homosexuality and the implicit inversion theory. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 11, 83–96.
Klein, F., Sepekoff, B., & Wolf, T. J. (1985). Sexual orientation: a multi-variable dynamic process. Journal of Homosexuality, 11, 35–49.
LaMar, L., & Kite, M. (1998). Sex differences in attitudes toward gay men and lesbians: a multidimensional perspective. The Journal of Sex Research, 35, 189–196.
Langlois, J. H., & Downs, A. C. (1980). Mothers, fathers, and peers as socialization agents of sex-types play behaviors in young children. Child Development, 51, 1217–1247.
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.
Lepore, L., & Brown, R. (1997). Category and stereotype activation: is prejudice inevitable? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 275–287.
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.
Lewis, R. J., Derlega, V. J., Griffen, J. L., & Krowinski, A. C. (2003). Stressors for gay men and lesbians: life stress, gay-related stress, stigma consciousness, and depressive symptoms. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 22, 716–729.
Liben, L. S., & Bigler, R. S. (2002). The developmental course of gender differentiation: Conceptualizing, measuring, and evaluating constructs and pathways. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 67(2, Serial No. 269).
Lippa, R. A. (2005). Sexual orientation and personality. Annual Review of Sex Research, 16, 119–153.
Lippa, R., & Connelly, S. (1990). Gender diagnosticity: A new Bayesian approach to gender-related individual differences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 1051–1065.
Madon, S. (1997). What do people believe about gay males? A study of stereotype content and strength. Sex Roles, 37, 663–685.
Martin, C. L. (1990). Attitudes and expectations about children with nontraditional and traditional gender roles. Sex Roles, 22, 151–165.
Martin, C. L. (1995). Stereotypes about children with traditional and nontraditional gender roles. Sex Roles, 33, 727–751.
McCreary, D. R. (1994). The male role and avoiding femininity. Sex Roles, 31, 517–531.
O’Neil, J. M. (1981). Patterns of gender role conflict and strain: Sexism and fear of femininity in men’s lives. Personnel and Guidance Journal, 60, 203–210.
Pillard, R. C. (1991). Masculinity and femininity in homosexuality: “Inversion” revisited. In J. C. Gonsiorek & J. D. Weinrich (Eds.), Homosexuality: Research implications for public policy (pp. 32–43). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Richardson, D., Bernstein, S., & Hendrick, C. (1980). Deviations from conventional sex-role behavior: effect of perceivers’ sex-role attitudes on attraction. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 1, 351–355.
Schope, R. D., & Eliason, M. J. (2004). Sissies and tomboys: gender role behaviors and homophobia. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 16, 73–97.
Sinclair, L., & Kunda, Z. (1999). Reactions to a Black professional: motivated inhibition and activation of conflicting stereotypes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 885–904.
Spence, J. T., & Helmreich, R. L. (1978). Masculinity & femininity: Their psychological dimensions, correlates, & antecedents. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Spence, J. T., Helmreich, R., & Stapp, J. (1974). The personal attributes questionnaire: a measure of sex role stereotypes and masculinity and femininity. Catalogue of Selected Documents in Psychology, 4, 43–44.
Taylor, A. (1983). Conceptions of masculinity and femininity as a basis for stereotypes of male and female homosexuals. Journal of Homosexuality, 9, 37–53.
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.
Wegner, D. M. (1994). Ironic processes of mental control. Psychological Review, 101, 34–52.
Wilder, D. A. (1981). Perceiving persons as a group: categorization and intergroup relations. In D. L. Hamilton (Ed.), Cognitive processes in stereotyping and intergroup behavior (pp. 213–257). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Yang, A. S. (1997). The polls-trends: attitudes toward homosexuality. Public Opinion Quarterly, 61, 477–507.
About this article
Cite this article
Blashill, A.J., Powlishta, K.K. Gay Stereotypes: The Use of Sexual Orientation as a Cue for Gender-Related Attributes. Sex Roles 61, 783–793 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-009-9684-7
- Gender roles