Stigmatization of ‘gay‐sounding’ voices: The role of heterosexual, lesbian, and gay individuals’ essentialist beliefs

Fasoli, Fabio; Hegarty, Peter and Frost, David M. (2021). Stigmatization of ‘gay‐sounding’ voices: The role of heterosexual, lesbian, and gay individuals’ essentialist beliefs. British Journal of Social Psychology (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/bjso.12442

Abstract

Voice-based sexual orientation (SO) judgements can prompt group-based discrimination. However, the relationships between stigmatization and essentialist beliefs about vocal cues to SO have not been researched. Two studies examined heterosexuals’ and gay men’s and lesbian women’s essentialist beliefs about voice as a cue of SO to uncover essentialist beliefs’ role in the perpetration and experience of stigma. In Study 1 (N = 363), heterosexual participants believed voice was a better cue to SO for men than for women, and participants’ belief in the discreteness, immutability, and controllability of ‘gay-sounding’ voices was correlated with higher avoidant discrimination towards gay-sounding men. In Study 2 (N = 147), endorsement of essentialist beliefs about voice as a SO cue was associated with self-perceptions of sounding gay amongst gay men and lesbians. Sexual minority participants, especially gay men, who believed that they sounded gay reported more anticipation of rejection and engaged in vigilance in response. Essentialist beliefs about vocal cues to SO are relevant to explaining both the perpetration of stigma by heterosexuals and the experience of stigma for lesbians and gay men.

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