Gregory M. Herek, Ph.D.
Bibliography: Selected Abstracts
|Herek, G.M. (1984). Beyond "homophobia": A social psychological perspective on attitudes toward lesbians and gay men. Journal of Homosexuality, 10 (1/2), 1-21.||Homophobia, a term often used to describe hostile reactions to lesbians and gay men, implies a unidimensional construct of attitudes as expressions of irrational fears. This paper argues that a more complex view is needed of the psychology of positive and negative attitudes toward homosexual persons. Based upon a review of previous empirical research, a model is proposed that distinguishes three types of attitudes according to the social psychological function they serve: (1) experiential, categorizing social reality by one's past interactions with homosexual persons; (2) defensive, coping with one's inner conflicts or anxieties by projecting them onto homosexual persons; and (3) symbolic, expressing abstract ideological concepts that are closely linked to one's notion of self and to one's social network and reference groups. Strategies are proposed for changing attitudes serving each of the functions. The importance of distinguishing attitudes toward lesbians from those focused on gay men is also addressed.|
toward lesbians and gay men: A factor-analytic study. Journal
of Homosexuality, 10 (1/2), 39-51.
||This paper reports a series of factor analyses of responses to attitude statements about lesbians and gay men. Using a common factor model with oblique rotation, a bipolar Condemnation-Tolerance factor was observed repeatedly in four separate samples of undergraduates. The factor accounts for 35-45% of the total common variance in responses, and is similar for males and female respondents and for questionnaires concerning both lesbians and gay men. A Beliefs factor accounts for another 5% of the total variance. It is argued that scales assessing attitudes toward lesbians and gay men should restrict their content to items loading highly on the Condemnation-Tolerance factor. An appendix lists items loading on the Condemnation-Tolerance factor.|
(1986). On heterosexual masculinity: Some psychical consequences of the social construction of gender and sexuality.
American Behavioral Scientist, 29 (5), 563-577.
||This article considers the proposition that to be "a man" in contemporary American society is to be homophobic -- that is, to be hostile toward homosexual persons in general and gay men in particular. Starting from empirical observation of links between homophobia and gender, heterosexual masculinity is discussed as a culturally constructed gender identity that has been affected by the historically recent emergence of gay identities. The paper then discusses how heterosexual masculine identity is constructed by individuals, and how expressing hostility toward gay people enhances such an identity. Homophobia serves the psychological function of expressing who one is not (i.e., homosexual) and thereby affirming who one is (heterosexual). Furthermore, homophobia reduces the likelihood that heterosexual men will interact with gay men, thereby ruling out opportunities for the attitude change that often occurs through such contact. Finally, the paper proposes strategies for disentangling homophobia from heterosexual masculinity, and considers prospects for changing both.|
instrumentality of attitudes: Toward a neofunctional
theory. Journal of Social Issues, 42
||This paper proposes that attitudes should be viewed as strategies for meeting personal needs: They serve psychological functions. After reviewing the early functional attitude theories proposed by Katz (1960) and Smith et al (1956), and some of the problems associated with them, a new functional approach is outlined. This neofunctional approach distinguishes between two principal sources for the benefit related to attitudes: the attitude's object and the attitude's expression. Within these two major categories, specific functions are described based on the author's research and that of earlier functional theorists. The personality, situational, and domain characteristics likely to influence the functional value of attitudes are also discussed. Strategies suggested by this approach for changing attitudes are briefly considered.|
(1986). The social
psychology of homophobia: Toward a practical theory. Review
of Law and Social Change, 14 (4), 923-934.
||This paper presents a social psychological theory to explain homophobia based on the notion that a broad range of reactions to homosexuality exists among Americans. Based on the idea that attitudes serve psychological functions and are divided according to how they benefit the person holding the attitude, two major categories of homophobia are discussed: (1) homophobia based on personal experiences with homosexuals (experiential attitudes), and (2) homophobia based on the consequences of expressing one's opinions about homosexuals (expressive attitudes). Different strategies must be used in dealing with each type of homophobia. For heterosexuals, personal contact with lesbians and gay men represents the most promising strategy for reducing homophobia. Heterosexuals will be less likely to define the world entirely in heterosexual terms when they are aware of gay significant others.|
(1987). Religious orientation and prejudice: A comparison of racial and sexual attitudes. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 13 (1), 56-65.
||Past research on the relationship between religious orientation and prejudice against out-groups has focused on racism. A greater tendency toward racist attitudes has been found among persons with an extrinsic religious orientation, whereas an intrinsic orientation has sometimes been associated with tolerance. This study examined the influence of religious orientation on attitudes toward an out-group not widely accepted by contemporary religions (lesbians and gay men). Using questionnaire data from 126 White, heterosexual students on four university campuses, an extrinsic orientation was found to be positively correlated with racism, whereas an intrinsic orientation was not. Intrinsics, however, tended to be more prejudiced against gay people than were extrinsics. It is suggested that an intrinsic orientation does not foster unequivocal acceptance of others but instead encourages tolerance toward specific groups that are accepted by contemporary Judeo-Christian teachings. Attitudes toward outgroups may serve different psychological functions for persons with extrinsic and intrinsic orientations.|
& Huth, P. (1987). Decision-making during
international crises: Is quality of process related to
outcome? Journal of Conflict Resolution, 31
||This study investigated the hypothesis that high-quality decision-making procedures during crises are associated with better crisis outcomes than are defective decision-making procedures. Presidential decision making during 19 international crises since World War II was examined for 7 symptoms of defective decision making proposed by Janis and Mann (1977). Crisis outcomes were rated by outside experts in terms of their effect on US vital interests and on international conflict. As hypothesized, results indicated that crisis outcomes tended to have more adverse effects on US interests and were more likely to increase international conflict when the decision-making process was characterized by a large number of symptoms. Alternative explanations are considered and the implications of these results for improving decision makers' procedures are discussed.|
functions be measured? A new perspective on the
functional approach to attitudes. Social
Psychology Quarterly, 50 (4), 285-303.
||This paper argues for the value of a reformulated and reoperationalized functional approach to attitudes. The development of two new procedures for directly assessing functions is described. First, a content analysis procedure was devised, using essays written by 110 undergraduate students describing their attitudes toward lesbians and gay men. Patterns of themes were identified in the essays that indicate the presence of three functions: Experiential-Schematic, Defensive, and Self-Expressive. Correlations with theoretically relevant measures indicate that the content analysis procedure effectively assesses attitude functions. In Study 2, an objectively-scored method, the Attitude Functions Inventory (AFI), was developed and used to assess the functions served by attitudes toward lesbians and gay men and toward persons with three stigmatizing disabilities: AIDS, mental illness, and cancer. In the AFI, the Self-Expressive function observed in Study 1 was subdivided into Social-Expressive and Value-Expressive functions. Preliminary data support the AFI's validity. Theoretical and methodological implications for future research are discussed.|
& Glunt, E.K.
(1988). An epidemic of stigma: Public reactions to AIDS. American
Psychologist, 43 (11), 886-891.
||The AIDS epidemic has been accompanied by intensely negative public reactions to persons presumed to be infected by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). In this article, we define such reactions as AIDS-related stigma. We discuss two major sources of this stigma: the identification of AIDS as a deadly disease and the association of AIDS in the United States with already stigmatized groups, especially gay men. We describe some of the social and psychological processes that contribute to AIDS-related stigma and offer suggestions for eradicating stigma through public policy and individual education.|
Heterosexuals' attitudes toward lesbians and gay men:
Correlates and gender differences. The Journal
of Sex Research, 25 (4), 451-477.
||This paper discusses the basis for differences among heterosexuals in their reactions to gay people, with special emphasis on the issue of gender differences. Three studies conducted with students at 6 different universities revealed a consistent tendency for heterosexual males to express more hostile attitudes than heterosexual females, especially toward gay men. The same social psychological variables appear to underlie both males' and females' attitudes toward both gay men and lesbians: religiosity, adherence to traditional ideologies of family and gender, perception of friends' agreement with one's own attitudes, and past interactions with lesbians and gay men. The role of these variables in shaping attitudes is discussed and areas for future research are proposed. Construction and validation of the Attitudes Toward Lesbians and Gay Men (ATLG) scale are also described.|
crimes against lesbians and gay men: Issues for research
and policy. American Psychologist, 44 (6),
||Antigay hate crimes (words or actions that are intended to harm or intimidate individuals because they are lesbian or gay) constitute a serious national problem. In recent surveys, as many as 92% of lesbians and gay men report that they have been the targets of antigay verbal abuse or threats, and as many as 24% report physical attacks because of their sexual orientation. Assaults may have increased in frequency during the last few years, with many incidents now including spoken references to the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) by the assailants. Trends cannot be assessed, however, because most antigay hate crimes are never reported and no comprehensive national surveys of antigay victimization have been conducted. Suggestions are offered for research and policy.|
Herek, G.M. (1990). Gay people and government security clearances: A social science perspective.
American Psychologist, 45 (9), 1035-1042.
||Lesbian and gay male applicants routinely are denied government security clearances or are subjected to unusually lengthy and intensive investigation. This article reviews social science data relevant to the principal justifications that have been offered for this policy and presents the following conclusions: (a) Lesbians and gay men are no more likely than heterosexuals to suffer from a personality disorder or emotional stress, or to be psychologically unstable; (b) lesbians and gay men are no more likely than heterosexuals to be unduly sensitive to coercion, blackmail, or duress; and (c) lesbians and gay men are no more likely than heterosexuals to be unwilling to respect or uphold laws or regulations, or to be unreliable or untrustworthy. Three major flaws are discussed that underlie current government policies toward gay applicants for security clearances: (a) Groups rather than individuals are screened for undesirable characteristics; (b) applicants are rejected on the basis of problems created by government policies themselves; and (c) homosexual applicants are scrutinized according to criteria that are not applied similarly to heterosexual applicants. An alternative hypothesis, that experience with stigma actually may increase a gay applicant's ability to maintain secrecy, is discussed. Some consequences of current policies are noted.|
context of anti-gay violence: Notes on cultural and
psychological heterosexism. Journal of
Interpersonal Violence, 5 (3), 316-333.
||Hate crimes against lesbians and gay men occur within a broader cultural context that is permeated by heterosexism. Heterosexism is defined here as an ideological system that denies, denigrates, and stigmatizes any nonheterosexual form of behavior, identity, relationship, or community. It operates principally by rendering homosexuality invisible and, when this fails, by trivializing, repressing, or stigmatizing it. This article focuses on the nexus between cultural heterosexism and individual prejudice against lesbians and gay men. Key components of the ideologies of sex and gender from which heterosexism derives are identified: (a) the personal-public dichotomy, (b) the stigmatization of particular forms of sexuality, and (c) the linkage of heterosexuality to gender-role conformity. Supported by these ideological underpinnings, cultural heterosexism fosters anti-gay attitudes by providing a ready-made system of values and stereotypical beliefs that just such prejudice as "natural." By imbuing homosexuality with a variety of symbolic meanings, cultural heterosexism enables expressions of individual prejudice to serve various psychological functions. Furthermore, by discouraging lesbians and gay men from coming out to others, heterosexism perpetuates itself. Recent social trends that may affect the ideology of heterosexism are identified, and their potential for reducing anti-gay prejudice is discussed.|
& Berrill, K.
(1990). Documenting the victimization of lesbians and gay
men: Methodological issues. Journal of
Interpersonal Violence, 5 (3), 301-315.
||Documenting the extent of anti-gay hate crimes is of critical importance in responding effectively to them and preventing them. The task of documentation is difficult and time-consuming, but is tremendously valuable if done correctly. Recognizing that the bulk of information about hate crimes currently comes from small-scale community surveys, this article describes some of the major methodological issues involved in conducting such surveys. Issues of sampling, instrument design, data collection, and data analysis are discussed. Guidelines are offered for reporting the survey results. A sample victimization questionnaire is presented. Using the guidelines and resources provided in this article may yield survey results that will be more useful for researchers, service providers, policymakers, and the lesbian and gay community|
& Berrill, K.
(1990). Anti-gay violence and mental health: Setting an
agenda for research. Journal of Interpersonal
Violence, 5 (3), 414-423.
||Empirical studies are urgently needed of the scope and prevalence of anti-gay violence, its mental health consequences, its prevention, and institutional response to it. Researchers should seek data from a variety of sources, use representative samples whenever possible, use reliable and valid measures and methods, and design studies that are longitudinal and prospective. Each of these components of a research agenda for studying anti-gay violence and hate crimes is described.|
& Levy, B. (1990). Violence and victimization of
lesbians and gay men: Mental health consequences. Journal
of Interpersonal Violence, 5 (3), 366-383.
||This article describes some of the major psychosocial challenges faced by lesbian and gay male survivors of hate crimes, their significant others, and the gay community as a whole. When an individual is attacked because she or he is perceived to be gay, the negative mental health consequences of victimization converge with those resulting from societal heterosexism to create a unique set of problems. Such victimization represents a crisis for the individual, creating opportunities for growth as well as risks for impairment. The principal risk associated with anti-gay victimization is that the survivor's homosexuality becomes directly linked to her or his newly heightened sense of vulnerability. The problems faced by lesbian and gay male victims of sexual assault, and the psychological impact of verbal abuse also are discussed. Suggestions are offered to assist practitioners in helping the survivors of anti-gay hate crimes.|
Berrill, K.T., &
(1990). Primary and secondary victimization in
anti-gay hate crimes: Official response and public
policy. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 5
||Lesbian and gay male targets of hate crimes face multiple levels of victimization. In addition to suffering the effects of being a crime victim, they also face secondary victimization (i.e., additional victimization after a crime that results from societal heterosexism). Examples of secondary victimization include losing one's job, being evicted from housing, or being denied public services or accommodations once one's sexual orientation is disclosed as the result of an anti-gay attack. The inadequacies of government response to anti-gay hate crimes are discussed, and the secondary victimization perpetrated by the criminal justice system is described. A broad-based governmental response to anti-gay hate crimes is advocated. Specific policy recommendations are offered for formulating appropriate legislation, reforming the criminal justice system, and developing widespread community education programs.|
|Herek, G.M. (1990). Illness, stigma, and AIDS. In P. Costa & G.R. VandenBos (Eds.), Psychological aspects of serious illness (pp. 103-150). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.||This paper describes some of the general cultural, social, and psychological processes through which an illness becomes stigmatized, and the consequences of these processes for individuals with the disease. It applies these concepts to AIDS-related stigma, which refers to all unfavorable attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, and policies directed at persons perceived to be infected with HIV, whether or not they actually are infected and regardless of whether or not they manifest symptoms of AIDS. Individuals' hostility toward people with AIDS can best be understood through psychological and sociological perspectives on stigma, prejudice, and attitudes. Individual manifestations of AIDS-related stigma represent the intersection of psychological processes with the cultural construction of the illness. Five areas of analysis are considered: the biomedical manifestations of AIDS, the cultural construction of AIDS, attitudes of the nonstigmatized, experiences of the stigmatized, and social interactions between the two groups. Note: This is the text of a Master Lecture delivered at the meeting of the American Psychological Association in New Orleans, LA.|
& Glunt, E.K. (1991).
AIDS-related attitudes in the United States: A preliminary conceptualization.
The Journal of Sex Research, 28 (1), 99-123.
||This paper offers a preliminary conceptualization of the psychological structure of AIDS-related attitudes among American adults, and describes some of the social and psychological factors that affect those attitudes. Data were collected first from participants in focus groups in five U.S. cities, and then from respondents in a national telephone survey. Two major psychological dimensions of attitudes were observed consistently. The first dimension, labeled COERCION/COMPASSION, includes judgments about the extent to which AIDS is viewed as highly contagious and requiring containment, through coercion if necessary. It also includes attributions of blame to people with AIDS. The second dimension, PRAGMATISM/MORALISM, includes judgments about the extent to which AIDS is viewed as controllable through research, public education and governmental sponsorship of behavior-change programs. The two attitude dimensions are not highly correlated. Regression analyses suggest that the two dimensions have different social and psychological antecedents, and that these antecedents differ between White and Black Americans. Using the two factors, a tentative typology of responses to the AIDS epidemic is presented. Implications for AIDS education and policy are discussed.|
Kimmel, D.C., Amaro, H., & Melton, G.B. (1991).
Avoiding heterosexist bias in psychological research.
American Psychologist, 46 (9), 957-963.
||This article describes various ways that heterosexist bias can occur in scientific research and suggests ways that social and behavioral scientists can avoid it. Heterosexist bias is defined as conceptualizing human experience in strictly heterosexual terms and consequently ignoring, invalidating, or derogating homosexual behaviors and sexual orientation, and lesbian, gay male, and bisexual relationships and lifestyles. The deleterious scientific, social, and ethical consequences of such bias are discussed. Questions are provided for researchers to use in evaluating how heterosexist bias might affect their own selection of research questions, sampling, operationalization of variables, data collection, protection of participants, and dissemination of results. Suggestions also are offered for reducing heterosexist bias in academic journals, textbooks, and in colleges and universities.|
Myths about sexual orientation: A lawyer's guide to social science research.
Law and Sexuality, 1, 133-172.
||This article provides an overview of social science theory and empirical research concerning sexual orientation. The paper begins with a brief discussion of terminology, basic concepts of internal validity and generalizability, the application of data to individuals and groups, and the burden of proof in scientific research on homosexuality. The bulk of the article is devoted to a discussion of current data relevant to eight common, inaccurate characterizations of lesbians, gay men, and homosexuality. These myths concern: (1) the relationship of homosexuality to mental illness; (2) the psychological effects of stigma on gay men and women; (3) the origins of sexual orientation and possibilities for changing it; (4) homosexuality and child molestation; (5) the effects of gay parents and role models on children; (6) gay male and lesbian intimate relationships; (7) gay people as a minority group; and (8) the effects of gay people on organizational efficiency and morale. The social science research reviewed here consistently indicates that lesbians and gay men, as a group, do not differ in significant ways from heterosexuals except in terms of their sexual orientation.|
Herek, G.M. (1991).
Stigma, prejudice, and violence against lesbians and gay men.
In J. Gonsiorek & J. Weinrich (Eds.),
Homosexuality: Research implications for public policy
(pp. 60-80). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
||Although they show increasing willingness to extend basic civil liberties to gay men and lesbians, most heterosexual Americans continue to condemn homosexuality on moral grounds and to reject or feel uncomfortable about gay people personally. This chapter uses social science theory and empirical research to describe and explain these negative attitudes, with special emphasis on research findings relevant to policymakers. The chapter begins with a discussion of gay people as a stigmatized minority group. Next, it reviews social psychological data on antigay prejudice and stereotypes, including an extended discussion of the stereotype that gay people molest children. Next, consequences of prejudice are described. Finally, after a brief discussion of the linkage between antigay attitudes and public reactions to AIDS, suggestions are offered for eradicating antigay prejudice.|
Herek, G.M., & Capitanio, J.P. (1993).
Public reactions to AIDS in the United States: A second decade of stigma.
American Journal of Public Health, 83 (4), 574-577.
||This study measured the pervasiveness of stigmatizing attitudes and beliefs concerning AIDS among the American public. Because African Americans have been disproportionately affected by AIDS, stigma also was assessed in a sample of Black Americans. Telephone interviews were conducted with a general sample of 538 U.S. adults, and a separate sample of 607 African Americans. Individuals were asked about their feelings toward persons with AIDS (PWAs), support for punitive policies, likelihood of avoiding PWAs, and beliefs about HIV transmission. Only 16.5% of Blacks and 22% of Whites did not give any stigmatizing responses. African Americans were more likely than Whites to overestimate the risk of infection through casual contact, but were less likely to hold negative personal feelings toward PWAs. Overall, females were less likely than males to stigmatize PWAs on measures pertaining to punitive policies and avoidant behaviors. Stigma among African Americans appears to focus on AIDS as a disease that threatens the Black community, whereas stigma among Whites appears to reflect attitudes toward the social groups principally affected by the epidemic. The results indicate that stigma reduction should be a central goal of AIDS educational efforts.|
orientation and military service: A social science
perspective. American Psychologist, 48
||Since 1982, the policy of the U.S. Department of Defense has been that homosexuality is incompatible with military service. In January of 1993, however, President Clinton announced his intention to reverse the military's ban and called for discussion about how best to implement a new, nondiscriminatory policy. This article reviews the social science literature relevant to such a discussion. Empirical data suggest that lesbians and gay men are not inherently less capable of military service than are heterosexual women and men; that prejudice in the military can be overcome; that heterosexual personnel can adapt to living and working in close quarters with lesbian and gay male personnel; and that public opinion will be influenced by the way this issue is framed. Any change in policy should be accompanied by strong measures to prevent harassment and violence against lesbians and gay men, educate heterosexual personnel, and enforce uniform policies regarding all forms of sexual harassment. Considerations relevant to a new policy that does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation are discussed.|
& Glunt, E.K.
(1993). Interpersonal contact and heterosexuals'
attitudes toward gay men: Results from a national survey.
The Journal of Sex Research, 30 (3),
||The association between heterosexuals' attitudes toward gay men and their interpersonal contact experiences with a lesbian or gay person was examined with data from a national AIDS telephone survey with a probability sample of English-speaking adults in the United States (n = 937). When asked whether any friends or relatives had "let you know that they were homosexual," approximately one-third of the respondents gave an affirmative answer. Regression analyses indicated that interpersonal contact predicted attitudes toward gay men better than did any other demographic or social psychological variable included in the equation. Interpersonal contact was more likely to be reported by respondents who were highly educated, politically liberal, young, and female. The data indicate that interpersonal contact is strongly associated with positive attitudes toward gay men and that heterosexuals with characteristics commonly associated with positive attitudes are more likely than others to be the recipients of disclosure from gay friends and relatives.|
Documenting prejudice against lesbians and gay men on campus:
The Yale Sexual Orientation Survey.
Journal of Homosexuality, 25 (4), 15-30.
||College and university communities recently have begun to confront the problems of harassment, discrimination, and violence against lesbians, gay men, and bisexual people on campus. A first step in responding to attacks against gay and bisexual people is to document their frequency and the forms that they take. The present article reports the methodology and results of a survey conducted at Yale University in 1986, which subsequently has been replicated on several other campuses. The Yale survey revealed that lesbians, gay men, and bisexual people on campus lived in a world of secretiveness and fear. Although experiences of physical assault on campus were relatively infrequent, many respondents reported other forms of discrimination and harassment. A majority reported that they feared antigay violence and harassment on campus, and that such fears affected their behavior. Replications on other campuses have yielded similar results. Suggestions are offered for researchers who wish to conduct such a survey on their own campus.|
J.P. (1994). Conspiracies, contagion, and compassion:
Trust and public reactions to AIDS. AIDS
Education and Prevention, 6
||AIDS educational programs can be effective only to the extent that they are perceived as credible by their target audiences. In this study, public trust associated with AIDS was assessed in a national telephone survey. African Americans were more likely than Whites to express distrust of doctors and scientists concerning HIV transmission through casual contact, to believe that AIDS is being used as a form of genocide against minority groups, and to believe that information about AIDS is being withheld from the public. Individuals high in distrust did not differ from those low in distrust in their exposure to AIDS information. Higher levels of AIDS-related distrust were not related to self-reported personal risk reduction, but were related to inaccurate beliefs about HIV transmission through casual contact and greater willingness to avoid and stigmatize people with AIDS. The importance of overcoming distrust in AIDS education programs is discussed.|
J.P. (1995). Black heterosexuals' attitudes toward
lesbians and gay men in the United States. The
Journal of Sex Research, 32 (2), 95-105.
||Although the direction and intensity of Black heterosexuals' attitudes toward homosexuality have been topics for considerable speculation, empirical data from representative samples previously have not been available. The current article reports findings from a two-wave telephone survey with a national probability sample of 391 Black heterosexual adults. Results indicated that negative attitudes toward homosexuality are widespread, but do not appear to be more prevalent among Blacks than among Whites. Gender differences in Black heterosexuals' attitudes (men's attitudes toward gay men were more negative than their attitudes toward lesbians or women's attitudes toward gay men) appeared to result primarily from men's greater tendency to regard male homosexuality as unnatural. The single most important predictor of attitudes was the attribution of choice to sexual orientation: Respondents who believed that homosexuality is beyond an individual's control expressed significantly more favorable attitudes toward gay men and lesbians than did respondents who regarded homosexuality as a choice. Consistent with previous research in predominantly White samples, respondents were more likely to express favorable attitudes if they were highly educated, unmarried, politically liberal, registered to vote, not religious, and if they included Blacks in their concept of gay men. In addition, respondents reported more favorable attitudes if they had experienced personal contact with gay men or lesbians, but this was not a significant predictor of attitudes when other variables were statistically controlled. Possible differences between Blacks' and Whites' social constructions of sexual orientation are discussed.|
& Glunt, E.K. (1995).
Identity and community among gay and bisexual men in the AIDS era:
Preliminary findings from the Sacramento Men's Health Study.
In G.M. Herek & B. Greene (Eds.)
AIDS, identity, and community:
The HIV epidemic and lesbians and gay men
(pp. 55-84). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
||This chapter reports data from two studies conducted in 1993 with gay and bisexual men from the greater Sacramento (CA) metropolitan area to identify principal predictors of high-risk sexual behaviors and various aspects of psychological functioning. Among the findings were: (1) A strong sense of gay/bisexual identity and community was not directly related to risk reduction in sexual behavior, but was indirectly related to sexual risk reduction through its relationship to the precursors of sexual risk reduction. Men who were out of the closet, had positive feelings about their sexual orientation, and felt a sense of community with other gay and bisexual men were more likely to have the beliefs and attitudes that foster HIV risk reduction. (2) A strong sense of identity and community was important for gay/bisexual men's mental health. Men tended to manifest higher self-esteem and less depression to the extent that they had a positive gay/bisexual identity and did not perceive that their personal setbacks were attributable to antigay prejudice. Higher levels of dissatisfaction with one's own homosexuality were significantly correlated with lower collective self-esteem, lower community consciousness, less importance attached to community involvements, less disclosure or outness to heterosexual friends, higher dissatisfaction with the local gay/bisexual community, less importance attached to political symbols, and a greater tendency to attribute personal setbacks to antigay prejudice. (3) Men who practiced HIV risk reduction experienced less AIDS-related stress than men who engaged in high-risk sex. (4) Men with different patterns of identity (i.e., who identified as gay versus queer versus bisexual) were likely to differ in their risk reduction and psychological functioning.|
Herek, G.M., & Capitanio, J.P. (1996).
"Some of my best friends": Intergroup contact, concealable stigma, and
heterosexuals' attitudes toward gay men and lesbians.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22 (4), 412-424.
||In a two-wave national AIDS telephone survey, a probability sample of English-speaking adults indicated their attitudes toward gay men at Wave 1 (1990-91; n = 538) and toward both gay men and lesbians approximately one year later (n = 382 at Wave 2). At Wave 1, heterosexuals reporting interpersonal contact (31.3%) manifested more positive attitudes toward gay men than did those without contact. Their attitudes were more favorable to the extent that they reported more relationships, closer relationships, and receiving direct disclosure about another's homosexuality. At Wave 2, these findings were generally replicated for attitudes toward lesbians as well as gay men. Cross-wave analyses suggest a reciprocal relationship between contact and attitudes. Theoretical and policy implications of the results are discussed, with special attention to the role of interpersonal disclosure in reducing stigma based on a concealable status.|
Herek, G.M., & Capitanio, J.P. (1997).
AIDS stigma and contact with persons with AIDS:
Effects of direct and vicarious contact.
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 27 (1), 1-36.
||This paper examines the relationship between AIDS-related stigma and (1) direct, personal contact with people with AIDS (PWAs), and (2) vicarious contact - through mass media - with a public figure with AIDS or HIV. Data are presented from a 2-wave national telephone survey with a probability sample of U.S. adults (ns = 538 at Wave 1; 382 at Wave 2) and an oversample of Black Americans (ns = 607 and 420, respectively). Direct contact with a PWA was associated with less support for coercive AIDS policies, less blame for PWAs, and less avoidance of PWAs. Vicarious contact -- operationalized as the self-reported impact of Earvin "Magic" Johnson's disclosure of his HIV infection, which occurred shortly before Wave 2 data collection began -- appeared to have its greatest impact among respondents who previously had manifested high levels of stigma. In that group, levels of stigma diminished somewhat to the extent that respondents reported having been strongly influenced by Johnson's announcement. Some differences between the general population sample and the Black oversample were observed in the relative impact of direct and vicarious contact. Although direct contact was negatively correlated with stigma, the best predictors of stigma were respondents' attitudes toward gay men and their beliefs about casual contact. Implications of the findings for reducing AIDS stigma are discussed.|
Cogan, J.C., & Glunt, E.K. (1997). Hate crime
victimization among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults:
Prevalence, psychological correlates, and methodological
issues. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 12
||Although violence based on sexual orientation is now widely recognized as a serious problem in the United States, social science data concerning the prevalence and consequences of such crimes are limited. In the present study, questionnaire data about victimization experiences were collected from 147 lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals (74 females, 73 males) in the Sacramento (CA) area. In addition, 45 of the respondents participated in a follow-up interview. Forty-one percent reported experiencing a bias-related criminal victimization since age 16, with another 9.5% reporting an attempted bias crime against them. The distribution of bias-related victimization and harassment experiences in the sample resembled patterns reported in other U.S. surveys with similar samples. Compared to other respondents, bias-crime survivors manifested higher levels of depression, anxiety, anger, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Methodological and substantive issues in empirical research on hate crimes against lesbians and gay men are discussed.|
Herek, G.M., Cogan, J.C., Gillis, J.R., & Glunt, E.K. (1998).
Correlates of internalized homophobia in a community sample of lesbians and gay men.
Journal of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, 2, 17-25.
||Objective: To systematically assess internalized homophobia and its correlates among gay men and lesbians. Design: A measure of internalized homophobia (IHP) was administered to a community sample of lesbians and gay men, along with measures of psychological well-being, outness, and perceptions of community. Results and Conclusions: Women's IHP scores were significantly lower than those of men. For lesbians and gay men alike, internalized homophobia was associated with less self-disclosure to heterosexual friends and acquaintances and less sense of connection to the gay and lesbian community. Lesbians and gay men with the highest IHP scores also manifested significantly more depressive symptoms and higher levels of demoralization than others, and high-IHP men manifested lower self-esteem than other men. IHP scores were not associated with disclosure to parents or the recency of developmental milestones for either lesbians or gay men.|
Herek, G.M., Mitnick, L., Burris, S., Chesney, M., Devine, P., Fullilove, M. T., Fullilove, R., Gunther, H. C., Levi, J., Michaels, S., Novick, A., Pryor, J., Snyder, M., & Sweeney, T. (1998).
AIDS and stigma: A conceptual framework and research agenda.
AIDS and Public Policy Journal, 13 (1), 36-47.
||AIDS-related stigma (or, more simply, AIDS stigma) refers to prejudice, discounting, discrediting, and discrimination directed at people perceived to have AIDS or HIV and at the individuals, groups, and communities with which they are associated. It persists despite passage of protective legislation and disclosures by public figures that they have AIDS or are infected with HIV. Although widely recognized as a problem, AIDS stigma has not been extensively studied by social and behavioral scientists. Empirical research is urgently needed in this area, however. Data are especially needed to inform government leaders, health providers, and the general public as they debate new policies concerning HIV treatment, prevention, and monitoring. This paper represents the final report from a research workshop convened by the Office on AIDS of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to consider the problem of AIDS-related stigma, its impact on the epidemic, and priorities for empirical research. The workshop, co-chaired by Gregory Herek and Leonard Mitnick of NIMH, was designed to promote consideration of empirical research and theory-building that would have both basic and applied scientific significance, including implications for policymakers and opinion leaders. The paper provides a conceptual framework for understanding AIDS stigma, and proposes a basic research agenda.|
Herek, G.M., & Capitanio, J.P. (1998). Symbolic prejudice or fear of infection? A functional analysis of AIDS-related stigma among heterosexual adults.
Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 20 (3), 230-241.
||To determine whether attitudes toward a stigmatized group are primarily instrumental or symbolic, multiple aspects of AIDS stigma were assessed in a two-wave telephone survey with a national probability sample of adults (N = 382). Using responses to the Attitude Functions Inventory (AFI), respondents were categorized according to the dominant psychological function served by their attitudes: (1) evaluative (based on instrumental concerns about personal risk for infection), or (2) expressive (based on a need to affirm one's self concept by expressing personal values). Negative affect toward a person who contracted AIDS through homosexual behavior, support for mandatory testing of so-called high-risk groups, and support for other punitive AIDS policies were predicted mainly by attitudes toward gay men for heterosexuals with expressive attitudes but not for those with evaluative attitudes, a pattern labeled functional divergence. Behavioral intentions to avoid persons with AIDS in various hypothetical situations were predicted primarily by beliefs about contagion for heterosexuals with expressive and evaluative attitudes alike, a pattern labeled functional consensus. Implications for AIDS education and for research based on the functional approach to attitudes are discussed.|
Herek, G.M., Gillis, J. R., Glunt, E. K., Lewis, J., Welton, D., & Capitanio, J. P. (1998).
Culturally sensitive AIDS educational videos for African American audiences:
Effects of source, message, receiver, and context.
American Journal of Community Psychology, 26, 705-743.
||The importance of using culturally sensitive educational materials in HIV-related interventions with racial and ethnic minority groups is widely recognized. However, little empirical research has been conducted to assess the relative effectiveness of different techniques for creating culturally sensitive AIDS educational videos. Two field experiments with three samples of African American adults (Ns = 174, 173, and 143) were conducted to assess how source characteristics (race of communicator), message characteristics (multicultural message versus culturally specific message), and audience characteristics (racial distrust and AIDS-related distrust) influence proximate (perceptions of the message's credibility and attractiveness) and distal (AIDS-related attitudes, beliefs, and behavioral intentions) output variables for AIDS educational videos. In Study 1, an AIDS video with a culturally-specific message was rated as more credible, more attractive, and of higher quality than was a video with a multicultural message. The multicultural message was rated less favorably when delivered by a White announcer than when the announcer was Black. In Study 2, the same pattern was replicated with a second community sample and a campus-based sample. Study 2 also indicated that a multicultural message might be more effective if delivered in a culturally-specific context, namely, after audience members watch a culturally specific video. Minimal changes were observed in distal outcome variables. It is argued that influencing proximate output variables is necessary, though not sufficient, for effecting long-term change in AIDS-related attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.|
Herek, G.M., (1999).
AIDS and stigma.
American Behavioral Scientist, 42, 1102-1112.
||This paper briefly reviews current knowledge about AIDS-related stigma, defined as prejudice, discounting, discrediting, and discrimination directed at people perceived to have AIDS or HIV, and the individuals, groups, and communities with which they are associated. AIDS stigma has been manifested in discrimination, violence, and personal rejection of people with AIDS (PWAs). Whereas the characteristics of AIDS as an illness probably make some degree of stigma inevitable, AIDS has also been used as a symbol for expressing negative attitudes toward groups disproportionately affected by the epidemic, especially gay men and injecting drug users (IDUs). AIDS stigma affects the well-being of PWAs and influences their personal choices about disclosing their serostatus to others. It also affects PWAs' loved ones and their caregivers, both volunteers and professionals. Stigma has hindered society's response to the epidemic, and may continue to have an impact as policies providing special protection to people with HIV face renewed scrutiny.|
Herek, G.M., & Capitanio, J.P. (1999).
AIDS stigma and sexual prejudice.
American Behavioral Scientist, 42, 1126-1143.
||This paper presents national survey data to assess the extent to which AIDS-related stigma remains linked to public attitudes toward homosexuality in the United States. Most heterosexuals continue to associate AIDS primarily with homosexuality or bisexuality, and this association is correlated with higher levels of sexual prejudice (antigay attitudes). Although all people who contract AIDS sexually are assigned blame for their infection, such blame is greater for a gay or bisexual man than for a heterosexual man or woman. A sizable minority of the public equates all male-male sexual behavior with AIDS, even sex between two HIV-negative men. A substantial portion also expresses discomfort about touching an article of clothing or drinking from a sterilized glass used by a PWA. These misconceptions and discomfort are correlated with sexual prejudice. It is argued that the link between AIDS attitudes and sexual prejudice impedes HIV prevention efforts and threatens civil rights.|
Capitanio, J.P., & Herek, G.M. (1999).
AIDS-related stigma and attitudes toward injecting drug users among Black and White Americans.
American Behavioral Scientist, 42, 1144-1157.
||Research has indicated that stigmatizing AIDS attitudes are associated with negative attitudes toward gay men. Because injecting drug users (IDUs) are also stigmatized and because injecting drug use is an important exposure category for HIV infection, we hypothesized that AIDS stigma might also be related to attitudes toward IDUs. We further hypothesized that the proportionately higher level of HIV transmission related to injecting drug use in the African American community would produce different patterns of stigma between Blacks and Whites. National probability samples of U.S. adults were interviewed by telephone. Respondents with more negative attitudes toward IDUs held more stigmatizing AIDS attitudes. Among Blacks, such attitudes explained more variance than did attitudes toward gay men, a pattern opposite to that found among Whites. Moreover, knowing someone who injected illegal drugs was associated with less AIDS stigma for Blacks, but not for Whites. The results suggest that Blacks' and Whites' attitudes toward people with AIDS are informed by their different experiences of the AIDS epidemic.|
Herek, G.M., Gillis, J.R., & Cogan, J. C. (1999).
Psychological sequelae of hate crime victimization among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults.
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67 (6), 945-951.
||To assess the psychological correlates of hate crime victimization based on sexual orientation, and to compare the sequelae of bias crimes with those of other crimes, questionnaire data about victimization experiences were collected from 2259 lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals (total N = 1170 females, 1089 males) in the Sacramento (CA) area. Approximately one-fifth of females and one-fourth of males had experienced a bias-related criminal victimization since age 16; one-eighth of females and one-sixth of males had experienced a bias crime recently (in the previous 5 years). Hate crimes were less likely than nonbias crimes to have been reported to police authorities. Compared to lesbian and gay victims of recent nonbias crimes, recent hate crime victims displayed significantly more symptoms of depression, anger, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress. Significant differences were not observed among bisexuals. Gay and lesbian hate crime survivors manifested significantly more fear of crime, greater perceived vulnerability, less belief in the benevolence of people, lower sense of mastery, and more attributions of their personal setbacks to sexual prejudice than did nonbias crime victims and nonvictims. The findings highlight the importance of recognizing hate crime survivors' special needs in clinical settings and in public policy.|
Herek, G.M., & Capitanio, J. C. (1999).
Sex differences in how heterosexuals think about lesbians and gay men: Evidence from survey context effects.
Journal of Sex Research, 36 (4), 348-360.
||Two experiments were embedded in a 1997 telephone survey of US households to assess possible differences in how heterosexuals think about lesbians versus gay men. In each experiment, one half of the sample first responded to one or more attitude items about lesbians, followed by comparable items about gay men. The other half received the gay male item(s) first. Results are reported separately for White (N = 976) and Black (N = 479) heterosexuals. For White and Black men alike, self-reported attitudes toward lesbians tended to be more favorable when they were assessed without reference to gay men (i.e., lesbian items presented first). White men's reactions to gay men tended to be less negative when assessed after the questions about lesbians were presented, but Black men's responses did not consistently show this pattern. For some items, women gave more favorable ratings of lesbians and less favorable ratings of gay men when the lesbian items were presented first. The findings suggest possible gender differences in the cognitive organization of heterosexuals' attitudes toward lesbians and gay men.|
Herek, G. M. (2000). The social construction of attitudes: Functional consensus and divergence in the US public's reactions to AIDS. In G.R. Maio & J.M. Olson (Eds.), Why we evaluate: Functions of attitudes (pp. 325-364). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
||This chapter offers some observations about attitude functions based on research in the area of AIDS and stigma. A conceptual framework is presented for thinking about how the functions served by attitudes can vary across domains and among the specific attitude objects that compose those domains. Some attitude objects are socially constructed in such a way that they elicit the same function from virtually all members of a population (a pattern labeled functional consensus), whereas others are constructed such that they elicit a variety of functions (/i>functional divergence). Data are presented from a series of opinion surveys about AIDS conducted between 1990-97 with national probability samples of US adults. Depending on the function served generally by their attitudes in the AIDS domain, respondents' specific AIDS attitudes were differentially correlated with their beliefs about HIV transmission and attitudes toward gay men. However, some specific AIDS attitudes elicited functional consensus: Regardless of which function their AIDS attitudes generally served at the domain level, most respondents' attitudes toward these specific aspects of AIDS manifested a similar pattern of relationships to their transmission beliefs and attitudes toward gay men.|
Herek, G.M. (2000).
The psychology of sexual prejudice.
Current Directions in Psychological Science, 9(1), 19-22.
||Sexual prejudice refers to negative attitudes toward an individual because of her or his sexual orientation. In this article, the term is used to characterize heterosexuals' negative attitudes toward (a) homosexual behavior; (b) people with a homosexual or bisexual orientation; and (c) communities of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. Sexual prejudice is a preferable term to homophobia because it conveys no assumptions about the motivations underlying negative attitudes, locates the study of attitudes concerning sexual orientation within the broader context of social psychological research on prejudice, and avoids value judgments about such attitudes. Sexual prejudice remains widespread in the United States, although moral condemnation has decreased in the 1990s and opposition to antigay discrimination has increased. The article reviews current knowledge about the prevalence of sexual prejudice, its psychological correlates, its underlying motivations, and its relationship to hate crimes and other antigay behaviors.|
Herek, G.M. (2000).
Sexual prejudice and gender: Do heterosexuals' attitudes
toward lesbians and gay men differ?
Journal of Social Issues, 56 (2), 251-266.
||This paper explores the question of whether and how heterosexuals' attitudes toward lesbians differ from their attitudes toward gay men. Data from a 1997 national survey are presented to show that heterosexual women generally hold similar attitudes toward gay men and lesbians, whereas heterosexual men are more likely to make distinctions according to gender. Moreover, men's attitudes toward lesbians are susceptible to situational manipulations. Nevertheless, the underlying unity of attitudes toward lesbians and gay men is demonstrated by the fact that they are highly correlated for both heterosexual men and women. It is suggested that heterosexuals' attitudes toward gay people are organized both in terms of minority group politics and personal sexual and gender identity, and that attitudes toward lesbians are most likely to be differentiated from attitudes toward gay men in the latter realm.|
Herek, G.M., Gonzalez-Rivera, M., Fead, F., & Welton, D. (2001).
AIDS educational videos for gay and bisexual men: A content analysis.
Journal of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, 5 (4), 143-153.
||Objective: To systematically describe the content of AIDS educational videos targeting gay and bisexual men, and to compare it to the content of videos for heterosexual African American and Latino audiences. Design: AIDS videos targeting gay/bisexual men (n = 35), heterosexual African Americans (n = 14), and heterosexual Latinos (n = 25) were coded for the presence or absence of messages identified by various theoretical models as relevant to HIV education and risk reduction. Results and Conclusions: Videos targeting gay and bisexual men typically emphasized sexual risk reduction techniques whereas videos for heterosexual minority viewers were more likely to provide information about HIV transmission and audience members' vulnerability to AIDS. Despite their focus on reducing personal risk, most gay/bisexual videos did not depict partner negotiation for safer sex, reinforce the perception that social norms favor sexual risk reduction, or eroticize safer sex practices. Suggestions are offered for future research and for production of AIDS educational videos.|
Herek, G.M., Capitanio, J.P., & Widaman, K.F. (2002).
HIV-related stigma and knowledge in the United States:
Prevalence and trends, 1991-1999.
American Journal of Public Health, 92 (3), 371-377.
||Objectives. This study assessed the prevalence of AIDS stigma and misinformation about HIV transmission in 1997 and 1999 and examined trends in stigma in the United States during the 1990s. Methods. Telephone surveys with national probability samples of English-speaking adults were conducted in 1996-97 (N = 1309) and 1998-99 (N = 669). Findings were compared to results from a similar 1991 survey. Results. Overt expressions of stigma declined throughout the 1990s, with support for its most extreme and coercive forms (e.g., quarantine) at very low levels by 1999. However, inaccurate beliefs about the risks posed by casual social contact increased, as did the belief that people with AIDS (PWAs) deserve their illness. In 1999, approximately one-third of respondents expressed discomfort and negative feelings toward PWAs. Conclusions. Although support for extremely punitive policies toward PWAs has declined, AIDS remains a stigmatized condition in the United States. The persistence of discomfort with PWAs, blame directed at PWAs for their condition, and misapprehensions about casual social contact are cause for continuing concern and should be addressed in HIV prevention and education programs.|
Herek, G.M. (2002).
Gender gaps in public opinion about lesbians and gay men.
Public Opinion Quarterly 66 (1), 40-66.
||Using data from a 1999 national RDD survey (N = 1,335), this paper examines gender gaps in heterosexuals' attitudes toward lesbians, gay men, and a variety of topics related to homosexuality. Attitudes toward lesbians differed from attitudes toward gay men in several areas, and significant differences were observed between male and female heterosexual respondents. Survey participants generally were more likely to regard gay men as mentally ill, supported adoption rights for lesbians more than for gay men, and had more negative personal reactions to gay men than to lesbians. Overall, heterosexual women were more supportive than men of employment protection and adoption rights, more willing to extend employee benefits to same-sex couples, and less likely to hold stereotypical beliefs about gay people. Heterosexual men's negative reactions to gay men were at the root of these gender differences. Of all respondent-by-target combinations, heterosexual men were the least supportive of recognition of same-sex relationships and adoption rights for gay men, most likely to believe that gay men are mentally ill and molest children, and most negative in their affective reactions to gay men. Heterosexual men's response patterns were affected by item order, suggesting possible gender differences in the cognitive organization of attitudes toward gay men and lesbians. The findings demonstrate the importance of differentiating lesbians from gay men as attitude targets in survey research.|
Herek, G.M., Cogan, J.C., & Gillis, J.R. (2002).
Victim experiences in hate crimes based on sexual orientation.
Journal of Social Issues, 58 (2), 319-339.
||This paper uses data from interviews with 450 lesbian, gay, and bisexual people to examine the varieties of victim experiences in hate crimes based on sexual orientation. We describe the settings and perpetrators of hate crimes, strategies that victims use for determining that a crime was based on their sexual orientation, and reasons why victims do not report a crime to police authorities. Although many hate crimes are perpetrated in public settings by groups of young males who are strangers to the victim, the data show that victimization also occurs in a variety of other locales and is perpetrated by neighbors, coworkers, and relatives. Victims tended to rely primarily on explicit statements by perpetrators and contextual cues in deciding whether a crime was based on their sexual orientation, and interviewees' categorization of incidents as antigay generally appeared to be accurate. Hate crimes were less likely than other crimes to be reported to police, and concerns about police bias and public disclosure of their sexual orientation were important factors for victims in deciding whether to report. Many interviewees weighed the severity or importance of the crime and the likelihood that the perpetrators would be punished in making their decision. Interview narratives are used to illustrate these patterns.|
Herek, G.M. (2002).
Heterosexuals' attitudes toward bisexual men and women in the United States.
Journal of Sex Research, 39 (4), 264-274.
||This paper examines heterosexual adults' attitudes toward bisexual men and women using data from a 1999 national RDD survey (N = 1,335). Ratings on 101-point feeling thermometers were lower (less favorable) for bisexual men and bisexual women than for all other groups assessed including religious, racial, ethnic, and political groups except injecting drug users. More negative attitudes toward bisexuals were associated with higher age, less education, lower annual income, residence in the South and rural areas, higher religiosity, political conservatism, traditional values concerning gender and sexual behavior, authoritarianism, and lack of contact with gay men or lesbians. White heterosexual women expressed significantly more favorable attitudes than other women and all men. A gender difference was observed in attitudes toward bisexuals and homosexuals: Heterosexual women rated bisexuals significantly less favorably than they rated homosexuals, regardless of gender, whereas heterosexual men rated male targets less favorably than female targets, regardless of whether the target was bisexual or homosexual.|
Herek, G.M. (2002).
Thinking about AIDS and stigma: A psychologist's perspective.
Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics, 30, 594-607.
|This article provides a brief introduction to social psychological theory and research concerning AIDS-related stigma. After defining stigma and distinguishing it from the related constructs of prejudice and discrimination, the article briefly describes the contours of contemporary AIDS stigma in the United States, using findings from the author's own empirical research to illustrate key patterns. Reasons why HIV is stigmatized are considered and the ways that stigma is enacted in social encounters are discussed. Instrumental stigma (which is based mainly on fear of HIV-transmission) is distinguished from symbolic stigma (based mainly on preexisting attitudes toward the groups disproportionately affected by HIV). Various strategies for reducing AIDS stigma are considered.|
Herek, G.M., Capitanio, J.P., & Widaman, K.F. (2002).
Stigma, social risk, and health policy: Public attitudes toward HIV surveillance policies and the social construction of illness.
Health Psychology, 22 (5), 533-540.
This study examined how illness-related stigma is symbolically expressed through public attitudes toward health policies. Data from a 1999 national telephone survey with a probability sample of English-speaking US adults (N = 1,335) were used to assess how support for HIV surveillance policies is related to AIDS stigma and negative attitudes toward groups disproportionately affected by the epidemic. Anonymous reporting of HIV results to the government was supported by a margin of approximately 2-to-1, but name-based reporting was opposed 3-to-1. Compared to opponents of name-based reporting, supporters expressed significantly more negative feelings toward people with AIDS, gay men, lesbians, and injecting drug users, and were significantly more likely to overestimate the risks of HIV transmission through casual contact. More than one third of all respondents reported that concerns about AIDS stigma would affect their own decision to be tested for HIV in the future. Implications for understanding the social construction of illness and for implementing effective HIV surveillance programs are discussed.
Herek, G.M. (2003).
Evaluating interventions to alter sexual orientation: Methodological and ethical considerations (Comment on Spitzer, 2003).
Archives of Sexual Behavior, 32(5), 438-439.
Spitzer's (2003) study of self-reported change from homosexuality to heterosexuality following participation in an intervention is criticized on four grounds: (1) his uncritical reliance on self-reports from a highly select sample of activists from groups whose raison d'etre is to promote efforts to change homosexuals into heterosexuals; (2) the inability of his method to determine whether changes in sexual orientation if indeed they occurred in his sample were due to an intervention, rather than other factors; (3) his inattention to the potential harm inflicted by interventions attempting to change sexual orientation; and (4) his insensitivity to the antigay political agenda of groups promoting such interventions. It is concluded that Spitzer's study is methodologically flawed and disturbingly silent about ethical concerns.
Herek, G.M. (2004).
Beyond "homophobia": Thinking about sexual stigma and prejudice in the twenty-first century.
Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 1(2), 6-24.
George Weinberg's introduction of the term homophobia in the late 1960s challenged traditional thinking about homosexuality and helped focus society's attention on the problem of antigay prejudice and stigma. This paper briefly describes the history and impact of homophobia. The term's limitations are discussed, including its underlying assumption that antigay prejudice is based mainly on fear and its inability to account for historical changes in how society regards homosexuality and heterosexuality as the bases for social identities. Although the importance of Weinberg's contribution should not be underestimated, a new vocabulary is needed to advance scholarship in this area. Toward this end, three constructs are defined and discussed: sexual stigma (the shared knowledge of society's negative regard for any nonheterosexual behavior, identity, relationship, or community), heterosexism (the cultural ideology that perpetuates sexual stigma), and sexual prejudice (individuals' negative attitudes based on sexual orientation). The concept of internalized homophobia is briefly considered.
Herek, G.M., Widaman, K.F., & Capitanio, J.P. (2005).
When sex equals AIDS: Symbolic stigma and heterosexual adults' inaccurate beliefs about sexual transmission of AIDS.
Social Problems, 52 (1), 15-37.
Data from an experiment embedded in a national telephone survey of heterosexual, English-speaking US adults (N = 1,283) were used to examine the relationship between sexual prejudice and erroneous beliefs about AIDS transmission. Respondents were presented with three scenarios, each describing a single sexual encounter between a different healthy (i.e., HIV-negative) protagonist and another person. The scenarios varied in the sexual partner's HIV status (positive in one, negative in the others) and the use of condoms (condoms used in one scenario, not used in the others). The protagonist's sex and sexual orientation as well as the sex of her or his partner were experimentally manipulated. Nearly all respondents correctly stated that the protagonist could contract AIDS through unprotected sex with a person with AIDS. A substantial minority erroneously believed the protagonist could contract AIDS through sex with an uninfected partner, and significantly more respondents believed that a homosexual or bisexual man who had sex with another (uninfected) man risked AIDS compared to respondents who were asked about a heterosexual encounter. Across experimental manipulations, inaccurate beliefs about HIV transmission through unprotected sex were predicted by lower educational level, lower income, being female, being Black, high religiosity, a high degree of personal concern about contracting AIDS, and lack of knowledge about HIV transmission through casual contact. With other relevant variables statistically controlled, sexual prejudice was not a significant predictor of inaccurate beliefs about HIV transmission through unprotected sex but did predict erroneous beliefs about transmission through protected sex.
Herek, G.M., & Belkin, A. (2005).
Sexual orientation and military service: Prospects for organizational and individual change in the United States.
In T.W. Britt, A.B. Adler, & C.A. Castro (Eds.), Military life: The psychology of serving in peace and combat (Vol. 4: Military culture, pp. 119-142).
Westport, CT: Praeger Security International.
The question of whether gay men and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military has sparked some of the most
emotionally charged public policy debates in the United States in the past two decades.
Whereas most Western industrialized societies have made provisions for allowing gay people to serve with varying degrees
of openness, the United States has not.
Consequently, discussion in the U.S. has focused primarily on whether allowing openly gay and lesbian personnel
to serve would undermine the military's ability to accomplish its mission and, to a lesser extent,
how a policy change might be implemented.
This chapter addresses the issue of sexual orientation and military service.
To provide a context for considering current policies, we begin with an historical overview of how
homosexuality has been understood in the United States and its armed forces.
We then discuss and critique contemporary rationales for excluding gay men and lesbians from the military,
focusing on the issues of unit cohesion and privacy.
Next, we discuss social psychological issues relevant to the organizational and individual changes that might follow
from eliminating the ban on gay and lesbian personnel.
We conclude the chapter by offering suggestions for future research directions.
Herek, G. M., & Gonzalez, M. (2006).
Attitudes toward homosexuality among U.S. residents of Mexican descent.
Journal of Sex Research, 43 (2), 122-135.
This study examined attitudes toward lesbians and gay men in a sample of northern California
residents of Mexican descent (N = 616),
using 3-item versions of the Attitudes Toward Gay Men (ATG) and
Attitudes Toward Lesbians (ATL) scales presented simultaneously in Spanish and English.
Males' attitudes toward homosexual men were significantly more negative than females' attitudes,
whereas females expressed relatively negative attitudes toward lesbians.
Overall, respondents expressing negative attitudes endorsed more traditional gender attitudes
than respondents with positive attitudes,
tended to be older and less educated, had more children,
were more likely to belong to a fundamentalist religious denomination and to attend religious services
frequently, were more conservative politically, and were less likely to have
personal contact with gay people.
Further analyses revealed that the associations between attitudes and education,
number of children, personal contact, and religious attendance occurred mainly among
respondents who spoke and read English (rather than Spanish) or
identified with U.S. culture (rather than Mexican culture).
Herek, G. M. (2006).
Legal recognition of same-sex relationships in the United States: A social science perspective.
American Psychologist, 61 (6), 607-621.
Whether and how civil society should recognize committed relationships between same-sex partners has become a prominent, often divisive policy issue.
The present article reviews relevant behavioral and social science research to assess
the validity of key factual claims in this debate.
The data indicate that same-sex and heterosexual relationships do not differ in their essential psychosocial dimensions;
that a parent's sexual orientation is unrelated to her or his ability to provide a
healthy and nurturing family environment; and that marriage bestows substantial psychological,
social, and health benefits.
It is concluded that same-sex couples and their children are likely to benefit in
numerous ways from legal recognition of their families,
and providing such recognition through marriage will bestow greater benefit than civil unions
or domestic partnerships.
Trends in public opinion toward greater support for legal recognition of same-sex couples are discussed.
Herek, G. M., Chopp, R., & Strohl, D. (2007).
Sexual stigma: Putting sexual minority health issues in context.
In I. Meyer & M. Northridge (Eds.),
The health of sexual minorities:
Public health perspectives on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations (pp. 171-208).
New York: Springer.
In the United States today, lesbians, gay men, bisexual women, and bisexual men are stigmatized.
They are subjected to explicit and subtle discrimination,
marginalized or made virtually invisible by many of society's institutions,
and often vilified.
To understand the health-related experiences and behaviors of sexual minorities,
it is necessary to examine this stigma and prejudice,
including its sources and dimensions, how it is enacted, and how it is experienced.
In this chapter, we present a conceptual framework for understanding stigma and
prejudice directed at sexual minorities.
Using this framework, we examine the institutional enactment of sexual stigma
(heterosexism) in religion, the law, and psychiatry;
the experience of sexual stigma among sexual minority individuals;
and the internalization of sexual stigma by heterosexuals (sexual prejudice).
We conclude with a discussion of two examples of the consequences of sexual stigma:
economic discrimination and hate crimes.
Herek, G. M., & Garnets, L. D. (2007).
Sexual orientation and mental health.
Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 3, 353-375.
This chapter provides an overview of current psychological research and clinical practice related to mental health among people of sexual minority orientations. After establishing the historical context for current research questions and controversies, the findings of recent empirical research on psychological well-being and distress among nonheterosexuals are summarized. The minority stress model is used to frame a discussion of stressors unique to sexual minorities and to consider their possible effects on psychological well being. The possible ameliorative effects of adopting a sexual orientation identity are examined, followed by a discussion of how these ideas translate into contemporary clinical work with sexual minority clients. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of priority areas for empirical research and clinical practice.
Herek, G. M. (2007).
Confronting sexual stigma and prejudice: Theory and practice.
Journal of Social Issues, 63, 905-925.
This article explores theoretical and applied questions that are relevant to social scientists' efforts to understand and confront sexual stigma. A framework is presented for conceptualizing such stigma as a cultural phenomenon with structural and individual manifestations. The latter include enacted stigma and felt stigma, as well as internalized stigma, which encompasses self-stigma among sexual minorities and sexual prejudice among heterosexuals. Insights suggested by the model for reducing sexual prejudice are discussed. At the structural level, the framework highlights processes whereby heterosexism legitimates and perpetuates sexual stigma and the power differentials that it creates. Social and behavioral scientists roles' in working to eliminate heterosexism are discussed, and psychologists' contributions to court cases challenging state sodomy laws are described. It is argued that confronting sexual stigma will not only address an important social problem but will also enrich scientific understanding of human behavior.
Steward, W. T., Herek, G. M., Ramakrishna, J., Bharat, S., Chandy, S., Wrubel, J., & Ekstrand, M. L. (2008). HIV-related stigma: Adapting a theoretical framework for use in India. Social Science & Medicine, 67, 1225-1235.
Stigma complicates the treatment of HIV worldwide. We examined whether a multi-component framework, initially consisting of enacted, felt normative, and internalized forms of individual stigma experiences, could be used to understand HIV-related stigma in Southern India. In Study 1, qualitative interviews with a convenience sample of 16 people living with HIV revealed instances of all three types of stigma. Experiences of discrimination (enacted stigma) were reported relatively infrequently. Rather, perceptions of high levels of stigma (felt normative stigma) motivated people to avoid disclosing their HIV status. These perceptions often were shaped by stories of discrimination against other HIV-infected individuals, which we adapted as an additional component of our framework (vicarious stigma). Participants also varied in their acceptance of HIV stigma as legitimate (internalized stigma). In Study 2, newly developed measures of the stigma components were administered in a survey to 229 people living with HIV. Findings suggested that enacted and vicarious stigma influenced felt normative stigma; that enacted, felt normative, and internalized stigma were associated with higher levels of depression; and that the associations of depression with felt normative and internalized forms of stigma were mediated by the use of coping strategies designed to avoid disclosure of one's HIV serostatus.
Herek, G. M. (2009).
Hate crimes and stigma-related experiences among sexual minority adults in the United States: Prevalence estimates from a national probability sample.
Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 24, 54-74.
Using survey responses from a U.S. national probability sample of gay, lesbian, and bisexual adults (N = 662), this paper reports prevalence estimates of criminal victimization and related experiences based on the target's sexual orientation. Such experiences are conceptualized in terms of enacted stigma (criminal victimization, harassment, and discrimination based on sexual orientation) and felt stigma (perceptions that sexual minorities are disliked and devalued by society). Data were collected via the Internet by Knowledge Networks from a subsample of their panel of more than 40,000 individuals, all of whom were recruited using random-digit dialing methods and provided with free Internet access and equipment if they did not already have it. Approximately 20% of respondents reported having experienced a person crime or property crime based on their sexual orientation, about half had experienced verbal harassment, and more than one in ten reported having experienced employment or housing discrimination. Gay men were significantly more likely than lesbians or bisexuals to experience violence or property crimes. More than one third of gay men (37.6%) reported experiencing one or both types of crimes, compared to 12.5% of lesbians, 10.7% of bisexual men, and 12.7% of bisexual women. Gay men also reported higher levels of harassment and verbal abuse than the other sexual orientation groups. Employment and housing discrimination were significantly more likely among gay men and lesbians (reported by 17.7% and 16.3%, respectively) than among bisexual men and women (3.7% and 6.8%, respectively). More than half of the respondents manifested some degree of felt stigma, as indicated by their perception that most people think less of sexual minorities, that most employers will not hire qualified sexual minority applicants, or that most people would not want a sexual minority individual to care for their children. Implications for future research and policy are discussed.
Herek, G. M., Gillis, J. R., & Cogan, J. C. (2009). Internalized stigma among sexual minority adults: Insights from a social psychological perspective.
Journal of Counseling Psychology, 56, 32-43.
This article describes a social psychological framework for understanding sexual stigma and it reports relevant data on the stigma-related experiences of sexual minority individuals. The framework distinguishes between stigma's manifestations at the structural (heterosexism) and individual levels. The latter include overt negative actions against sexual minorities, such as hate crimes and discrimination (enacted sexual stigma), expectations about the probability that sexual stigma will be enacted in a given situation or under specific circumstances (felt sexual stigma), and the personal acceptance of sexual stigma as part of an individual's value system and self-concept (internalized sexual stigma). Based on findings from research on internalized sexual stigma among heterosexuals (manifested in the form of negative attitudes toward sexual minorities, or sexual prejudice), the article considers possible parallels in how sexual minorities experience internalized sexual stigma (manifested as negative attitudes toward the self, or self-stigma). Data from a community sample of lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults (N = 2259) are presented to assess hypotheses derived from the model concerning the relationships between self-stigma and a sexual minority individual's location in heterosexist institutions; the associations between negative self-attitudes and belief, affective, and behavioral variables related to sexual orientation; and the role of self-esteem as a mediator between self-stigma and psychological distress.
Herek, G. M. (2009).
Sexual stigma and sexual prejudice in the United States: A conceptual framework.
In D. A. Hope (Ed.). Contemporary perspectives on lesbian, gay & bisexual identities: The 54th Nebraska Symposium on Motivation (pp. 65-111).
New York: Springer.
In 1972, psychologist George Weinberg's book, Society and the Healthy Homosexual, introduced readers to a new term, homophobia, and to the then-novel idea that hostility to homosexuality, rather than homosexuality itself, posed a threat to mental health. The following year, the American Psychiatric Association's Board of Directors declared that homosexuality is not inherently associated with mental illness and voted to remove it from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM. The American Psychological Association quickly endorsed the psychiatrists' action and further urged mental health professionals "to take the lead in removing the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated with homosexual orientations." Thus, a major cultural institution renounced its longstanding role in legitimating society's stigmatization of homosexuality just when the psychological manifestations of such stigma were beginning to be redefined as a social problem. Elaborating on these points, this chapter provides a detailed framework for conceptualizing both societal and individual reactions to homosexuality and sexual minorities in the United States. A central aim of the discussion is to integrate insights relevant to sexual orientation from the sociological literature on stigma with findings from psychological research on prejudice. The chapter begins with a brief introduction to the construct of stigma and its structural manifestations in the institutions of society. Then the focus shifts to manifestations of stigma among individuals. After discussing three such manifestations, the chapter consider how individuals' attitudes can affect structural stigma and how cultural events can create conditions that are conducive to the diminution of individual prejudice.
Herek, G. M., Norton, A. T., Allen, T. J., & Sims, C. L. (2010).
Demographic, psychological, and social characteristics of self-identified lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults in a U.S. probability sample. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 7, 176-200.
Using data from a U.S. national probability sample of self-identified lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults (N = 662), this paper reports population parameter estimates for a variety of demographic, psychological, and social variables. Special emphasis is given to information with relevance to public policy and judicial decisions. Compared to the U.S. adult population, respondents were younger, more highly educated, and less likely to be non-Hispanic White, but differences were observed between gender and sexual orientation groups on all of these variables. Overall, respondents tended to be politically liberal, not highly religious, and supportive of marriage equality for same-sex couples. Women were more likely than men to be in a committed relationship. Virtually all coupled gay men and lesbians had a same-sex partner, whereas the vast majority of coupled bisexuals were in a heterosexual relationship. Compared to bisexuals, gay men and lesbians reported stronger commitment to a sexual minority identity, greater community identification and involvement, and more extensive disclosure of their sexual orientation to others. Most respondents reported experiencing little or no choice about their sexual orientation. The importance of distinguishing among lesbians, gay men, bisexual women, and bisexual men in behavioral and social research is discussed.
Herek, G. M. (2010).
Sexual orientation differences as deficits: Science and stigma in the history of American psychology.
Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5, 693-699.
This article briefly describes how psychology, psychiatry, and the mental health professions treated sexual orientation differences as deficits for much of the 20th century, as well as some of the negative consequences of that practice for sexual minorities. The 1970s witnessed a remarkable turnaround when the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the American Psychological Association called for psychologists to work to remove the stigma historically associated with homosexuality. This history illustrates not only how cultural institutions play a central role in legitimating stigma, but also how they can recognize their own complicity in this process and work effectively to undo its harmful effects. It is argued that psychology still has an important role to play in challenging the differences-as-deficits model in contemporary policy debates.
Herek, G. M. (2010).
Intimate relationships and parenthood in same-sex couples: An introduction [Intime Beziehungen und Elternschaft bei gleichgeschlechtlichen Paaren. Eine Einführung] .
Zeitschrift für Familienforschung/Journal of Family Research, 22 (Special Issue 7), 11-21.
This special issue of the Zeitschrift für Familienforschung/Journal of Family Research is devoted to the topic of Partnership and parenthood in same-sex couples [Partnerschaft und Elternschaft bei gleichgeschlechtlichen Paaren]. In introducting the papers, the present article notes four general themes that they address both directly and implicitly. First, sexual orientation is increasingly understood as an inherently relational construct rather than simply an individual trait or status. Second, the articles demonstrate some ways in which traditional notions of what constitutes a family have begun to include same-sex relationships in many Western countries. Third, they show how sexual stigma continues to shape the experiences of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people and their families. Finally, they highlight the ongoing need for accurate information about same-sex couples and their families, as well as societal attitudes toward sexual minorities.
Belkin, A., Frank, N., Herek, G. M., Hillman, E. L., Mazur, D. H., & Wilson, B. J. (2010).
How to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell": A roadmap of political, legal, regulatory, and organizational steps to equal treatment.
In J. E. Parco, & D. A. Levy (Eds.),
Attitudes aren't free: Thinking deeply about diversity in the U.S. armed forces (pp. 199-231).
Maxwell Air Force Base, AL: Air University Press.
President Barack Obama has stated his intention to end the Pentagon policy known as "don't ask, don't tell," and allow gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military. While strong majorities of the public, and growing numbers within the military, support such a change, some political leaders and military members have expressed anxiety about what impact it will have on the armed forces. Scholarly evidence shows that lifting the ban on service by openly gay personnel is unlikely to impair military effectiveness or to harm recruiting, retention or unit cohesion. Yet questions remain as to how best to execute and manage the transition from exclusion to inclusion of openly gay personnel in a way that takes into consideration the concerns and sensitivities of the military community. In this chapter, we address political, legal, regulatory, and organizational steps that will ensure that the implementation process goes smoothly.
Herek, G.M. (2011). Developing a theoretical framework and rationale for a research proposal.
In W. Pequegnat, E. Stover, & C. Boyce (Eds.), How to write a successful research grant application: A guide for social and behavioral scientists (2nd ed., pp. 137-145). New York: Springer.
It is useful to recall that our work as scientists will be at its best when it simultaneously tackles real-world problems and enriches our understanding of basic biological, psychological, or social processes. A good theory can help us do both. All empirical research is based on assumptions. Even purely "descriptive" or "exploratory" studies necessarily involve choices about the phenomena and variables to observe and the level of detail at which to observe them. Researchers planning an empirical study confront the challenges of making these assumptions explicit, examining them critically, and designing the investigation to yield data that permit those assumptions to be evaluated and modified appropriately. This is the process of theory construction. Unfortunately, although all research is based on theory, many grant proposals lack a well-developed theoretical rationale. The theoretical framework often remains implicit in the proposal without being formally articulated. Consequently, even though the application may be based on a good idea, it is conceptually weak and receives a poor priority/impact score. This chapter will give you a useful strategy for developing a clearly articulated theoretical framework for your research project and using it to write your entire research plan. ||
Herek, G. M. (2011).
Anti-equality marriage amendments and sexual stigma. Journal of Social Issues, 61, 413-426.
This article summarizes a stigma-based analysis of anti-equality marriage laws and campaigns. Three major themes are discussed. First, being denied the legal right to marry because of one's sexual orientation is an instance of stigma. Second, because being the target of stigma is stressful, the political campaigns surrounding anti-equality marriage amendments are a source of heightened stress for lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals. Third, structural and individual manifestations of sexual stigma are interrelated; the initial enactment and continuing existence of anti-equality marriage laws depend on the opinions and actions of the voting public. Social psychological knowledge can be useful for understanding heterosexuals' attitudes toward those laws. Building on findings from studies of prejudice and intergroup contact, suggestions are offered for future research on how individuals influence the opinions of their family and friends about marriage equality.
Norton, A. T., & Herek, G. M. (2011).
Heterosexuals' attitudes toward transgender people: Findings from a national probability sample of U.S. adults. Sex Roles, 68, 738-753.
Using data from a national probability sample, the present study describes public attitudes toward transgender people and assesses the extent to which they are explained by traditional gender role attitudes and sexual prejudice. Heterosexuals' feelings toward transgender people were significantly more negative than their attitudes toward gay men, lesbians, and bisexual women, but not bisexual men. In univariate analyses, attitudes differed significantly by respondent gender, educational level, geographic region, religiosity, political ideology, degree of egalitarianism, authoritarianism, endorsement of traditional gender roles, and prior contact with a gay or lesbian person. In regression analyses, heterosexuals' negative attitudes toward transgender people were predicted by a lower education level, greater religiosity (particularly among women), endorsement of traditional gender role attitudes, lack of prior contact with sexual minorities, the belief that society is changing too rapidly, and higher levels of sexual prejudice (particularly toward gay men). Implications for future research on attitudes toward transgender people are discussed.
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