'It's not a choice, it's the way we're built': Symbolic beliefs about sexual orientation in the US and Britain

Hegarty, P. (2002). 'It's not a choice, it's the way we're built': Symbolic beliefs about sexual orientation in the US and Britain. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 12(3) 153 - 166.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/casp.669

Abstract

Heterosexual-identified Americans who believe that sexual orientation is immutable typically express more tolerant attitudes towards lesbians and gay men. Attribution theorists argue that this is because immutability beliefs reduce stigmatization. In two studies, 97 American and 72 British heterosexual-identified students reported their beliefs about the immutability and fundamentality of sexual orientation, their attitudes towards lesbians and gay men and their judgments about the values that those beliefs expressed. In both samples, tolerant attitudes and immutability beliefs were correlated only among participants who consistently judged that immutability beliefs would be expressed by more tolerant heterosexual persons. More condemning participants judged lesbian and gay people and heterosexual people to be more fundamentally different in both samples. I argue that links between immutability and tolerance depend more on social constructions of immutability beliefs as expression,; of tolerance and less on the attributional content of such beliefs than previous theorists have acknowledged.

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