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Social Norms and Prejudice against Homosexuals

  • Annelyse Pereira (a1), Maria Benedicta Monteiro (a1) and Leoncio Camino (a2)


Different studies regarding the role of norms on the expression of prejudice have shown that the anti-prejudice norm influences people to inhibit prejudice expressions. However, if norm pressure has led to a substantial decrease in the public expression of prejudice against certain targets (e.g., blacks, women, blind people), little theoretical and empirical attention has been paid to the role of this general norm regarding sexual minorities (e.g., prostitutes, lesbians and gays). In this sense, the issue we want to address is whether general anti-prejudice norms can reduce the expression of prejudice against homosexual individuals. In this research we investigate the effect of activating an anti-prejudice norm against homosexuals on blatant and subtle expressions of prejudice. The anti-prejudice norm was experimentally manipulated and its effects were observed on rejection to intimacy (blatant prejudice) and on positive-negative emotions (subtle prejudice) regarding homosexuals. 136 university students were randomly allocated to activated-norm and control conditions and completed a questionnaire that included norm manipulation and the dependent variables. A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) as well as subsequent ANOVAS showed that only in the high normative pressure condition participants expressed less rejection to intimacy and less negative emotions against homosexuals, when compared to the simple norm-activation and the control conditions. Positive emotions, however, were similar both in the high normative pressure and the control conditions. We concluded that a high anti-prejudice pressure regarding homosexuals could reduce blatant prejudice but not subtle prejudice, considering that the expression of negative emotions decreased while the expression of positive emotions remained stable.

Diversos estudios acerca del papel que juegan las normas en la expresión del prejuicio han mostrado que la norma anti-prejuicio influye a las personas para que inhiban las expresiones de prejuicio. Sin embargo, si bien la presión de una norma ha llevado a un descenso sustancial de la expresión pública del prejuicio contra determinados objetivos (e.g., negros, mujeres, personas ciegas), se ha prestado poca atención teórica y empírica al rol de esta norma general con respecto a las minorías sexuales (e.g., prostitutas, lesbianas y gays). En este sentido, la cuestión que queremos abordar es si las normas generales anti-prejuicio pueden reducir la expresión del prejuicio contra los individuos homosexuales. En esta investigación examinamos el efecto de activar una norma anti-prejuicio contra los homosexuales sobre las expresiones abiertas y sutiles de prejuicio. La norma anti-prejuicio se manipuló experimentalmente y se observaron sus efectos sobre el rechazo a la intimidad (prejuicio abierto) y las emociones positivas y negativas (prejuicio sutil) con respecto a los homosexuales. Se asignaron al azar a 136 estudiantes universitarios a las condiciones norma-activada y control y completaron un cuestionario que incluía la manipulación de la norma y las variables dependientes. Un análisis de varianza multivariado (MANOVA) y ANOVAs subsiguientes mostraron que sólo en la condición de alta presión normativa los participantes expresaron menos rechazo a la intimidad y menos emociones negativas contra los homosexuales, comparados con las condiciones de activación simple de la norma y control. Sin embargo, las emociones positivas eran similares tanto en las condiciones de alta presión normativa como en la del control. Concluimos que la alta presión anti-prejuicio hacia de los homosexuales podría reducir el prejuicio abierto pero no el prejuicio sutil, considerando que la expresión de las emociones negativas descendió mientras que la expresión de las emociones positivas se mantuvo estable.


Corresponding author

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Annelyse Pereira, Rua: dos Escritores, 7, 1° B, 2685-207, Portela LRS, (Portugal). E-mail:


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Social Norms and Prejudice against Homosexuals

  • Annelyse Pereira (a1), Maria Benedicta Monteiro (a1) and Leoncio Camino (a2)


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