The Motivated Cognitive Basis of Transphobia: The Roles of Right-Wing Ideologies and Gender Role Beliefs
- 1.6k Downloads
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.
KeywordsTransgender (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).
The research was conducted using human participants (who completed a survey).
Ethical approval was obtained from the University of Kent. The research also complied with ethics committee guidelines of Ghent University.
All participants gave their informed consent to take part in the research.
- Allport, G. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
- Altemeyer, B. (1998). The other “authoritarian personality.”. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 30, 47–92.Google Scholar
- Cichocka, A., & Dhont, K. (in press). The personality bases of political ideology and behavior. In V. Zeigler-Hill & T. K. Shackelford (Eds.), SAGE handbook of personality and individual differences. London: SAGE (in press).Google Scholar
- Cichocka, A., Dhont, K., & Makwana, A. P. (2017). On self-love and outgroup hate: Opposite effects of narcissism on prejudice via social dominance orientation and right-wing authoritarianism. European Journal of Personality, 31, 366–384. https://doi.org/10.1002/per.2114.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Cragun, R. T., & Sumerau, J. E. (2015). The last bastion of sexual and gender prejudice? Sexualities, race, gender, religiosity, and spirituality in the examination of prejudice toward sexual and gender minorities. The Journal of Sex Research, 52, 821–834. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2014.925534.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Donaldson, C. D., Handren, L. M., & Lac, A. (2017). Applying multilevel modeling to understand individual and cross-cultural variations in attitudes toward homosexual people across 28 European countries. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 48, 93–112. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022022116672488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Federico, C. M., Ergun, D., & Hunt, C. (2014). Opposition to equality and support for tradition as mediators of the relationship between epistemic motivation and system-justifying identifications. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 17, 524–541. https://doi.org/10.1177/1368430213517273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Grant, J. M., Mottet, L. A., Tanis, J., Herman, J. L., Harrison, J., & Keisling, M. (2010). National transgender discrimination survey report on health and health care. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.Google Scholar
- Ho, A. K., Sidanius, J., Kteily, N., Sheehy-Skeffington, J., Pratto, F., Henkel, K. E., ... Stewart, A. L. (2015). The nature of social dominance orientation: Theorizing and measuring preferences for intergroup inequality using the new SDO7 scale. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109, 1003–1028. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspi0000033.supp.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Hodson, G., & Hewstone, M. (Eds.). (2013). Advances in intergroup contact. London: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
- Katz, J. (2007). The invention of heterosexuality. New York: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Kerr, P. S., & Holden, R. R. (1996). Development of the gender role beliefs scale (GRBS). Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 11, 3–16.Google Scholar
- Kruglanski, A. W., & Webster, D. M. (1996). Motivated closing of the mind: “Seizing” and “freezing.” Psychological Review, 103, 263–283. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.103.2.263.
- Kteily, N., Hodson, G., Dhont, K., & Ho, A. (2017). Predisposed to prejudice but responsive to intergroup contact? Testing the unique benefits of intergroup contact across different types of individual differences. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations. https://doi.org/10.1177/1368430217716750.
- Lee, I. A., & Preacher, K. J. (2013, September). Calculation for the test of the difference between two dependent correlations with one variable in common [Computer software]. http://quantpsy.org.
- Meloen, J. D. (1991). Inventarisatie Nederlandse F-schalen 1959–1990. In P. Scheepers & R. Eisinga (Eds.), Intolerant en Onderdanig [Intolerant and Submissive] (pp. 186–222). Nijmegen: ITS.Google Scholar
- Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (1998–2013). Mplus user’s guide (6th ed.). Los Angeles: Muthen and Muthen.Google Scholar
- Onraet, E., Van Hiel, A., Roets, A., & Cornelis, I. (2011). The closed mind: ‘Experience’ and ‘cognition’ aspects of openness to experience and need for closure as psychological bases for right-wing attitudes. European Journal of Personality, 25, 184–197. https://doi.org/10.1002/per.775.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Sibley, C. G., Wilson, M. S., & Duckitt, J. (2007). Antecedents of men's hostile and benevolent sexism: The dual roles of social dominance orientation and right-wing authoritarianism. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33, 160–172. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167206294745.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Stern, C., & Rule, N. O. (2017). Physical androgyny and categorization difficulty shape political conservatives’ attitudes toward transgender people. Social Psychological and Personality Science. https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550617703172.
- Van Hiel, A., & Mervielde, I. (2005). Authoritarianism and social dominance orientation: Relationships with various forms of racism. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 35, 2323–2344. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2005.tb02105.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Van Hiel, A., Pandelaere, M., & Duriez, B. (2004). The impact of need for closure on conservative beliefs and racism: Differential mediation by authoritarian submission and authoritarian dominance. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 824–837. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167204264333.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Walch, S. E., Sinkkanen, K. A., Swain, E. M., Francisco, J., Breaux, C. A., & Sjoberg, M. D. (2012). Using intergroup contact theory to reduce stigma against transgender individuals: Impact of a transgender speaker panel presentation. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 42, 2583–2605. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2012.00955.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Whitley, B. E., & Lee, S. E. (2000). The relationship of authoritarianism and related constructs to attitudes toward homosexuality. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 30, 144–170. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2000.tb02309.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Willoughby, B. L. B., Hill, D. B., Gonzalez, C. A., Lacorazza, A., Macapagal, R. A., Barton, M. E., & Doty, N. D. (2010). Who hates gender outlaws? A multisite and multinational evaluation of the Genderism and Transphobia scale. International Journal of Transgenderism, 12, 254–271. https://doi.org/10.1080/15532739.2010.550821.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Winter, S., Chalungsooth, P., Teh, Y. K., Rojanalert, N., Maneerat, K., Wong, Y. W., ... Macapagal, R. A. (2009). Transpeople, transprejudice and pathologization: A seven-country factor analytic study. International Journal of Sexual Health, 21, 96–118. https://doi.org/10.1080/19317610902922537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar