Attitudes toward sexual minorities moderate heterosexuals’ subjective stress response to homophobic discrimination

Hahn, H., Seager van Dyk, I. & Ahn, W.-Y. 2019.


Minority stress theory posits that members of a stigmatized group, such as sexual minorities (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and other non-heterosexual individuals), are particularly subject to ill effects of minority-specific events (stressors), including overt homophobic discrimination. Although adverse effects of homophobia are well documented for sexual minorities, little is known about effects of homophobic discrimination on heterosexuals. As a growing number of heterosexuals hold accepting views of sexual minority individuals, some detrimental effects of homophobia may extend to heterosexuals. In this experimental study, 263 heterosexual adults (mean age = 34.47 years, SD = 9.67, 51.7% female) were randomized to either a minority stress induction or a control condition. Participants rated subjective stress on a 0-100 visual analogue scale both immediately before and after the film-based induction. Participants also completed a measure of their attitudes toward sexual minorities. Moderation analyses indicated that heterosexuals who were more accepting of sexual minorities experienced greater stress after the induction than those with less accepting views. In addition, condition (minority stress vs. neutral) and attitudes towards sexual minorities interacted to predict post-induction stress. Thus, attitudes toward sexual minorities moderated individuals’ subjective responses to minority stress.