Sounds Like There Was No Sexual Orientation Discrimination? Attributions to Discrimination on the Basis of Auditory Gaydar

Hegarty, Peter and Fasoli, Fabio (2023). Sounds Like There Was No Sexual Orientation Discrimination? Attributions to Discrimination on the Basis of Auditory Gaydar. Journal of Homosexuality (Early access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00918369.2023.2233655

Abstract

Auditory gaydar happens when people’s heterosexuality is called into question by their vocal characteristics. Auditory gaydar has been shown to prompt discrimination against both women and men interviewing for leadership positions. Two experiments tested whether attributional ambiguity makes auditory gaydar discrimination difficult to detect in such contexts. Either heterosexual participants (Study 1, n = 161) or heterosexual and sexual minority participants (Study 2, n = 238) heard short clips of straight- vs. lesbian/gay-sounding speakers, described as unsuccessful applicants for leadership positions. Participants explained the speakers’ unsuccessful outcome in their own words and rated the likelihood that gender and sexual orientation discrimination caused that outcome. Attributions to gender discrimination were common whilst attributions to sexual prejudice were vanishingly rare. Women targets were rated more likely to have experienced gender discrimination, and lesbian/gay-sounding targets were rated more likely to have experienced sexual orientation discrimination by some participants (Study 1) or all participants (Study 2). We conclude that auditory gaydar may prompt discriminatory treatment in leadership hiring processes more readily than in prompts the recognition that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation has occurred.

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