Sexual Orientation and likability – Some insights

University of Toronto psychologists declared that white men being straight might be likable but black men who are gay seem to have an upper hand!

Nine men and 22 women were a part of a study that involved viewing 104 photos of straight and gay black and white males, wherein participants had to rate their likability on a scale of one (not likable) to seven (extremely likable). Participants were not informed regarding the sexual orientation of the males in the pictures. On the whole, white straight men were favored over white gay men. However, the results were different for black males. Contrastingly, gay blacks were found to be more likable than straight black men.

Doctoral student and lead author, Jessica Remedios, said, “We observed that people judge others based on sexual orientation even if they are not consciously aware of whether someone is gay or straight. By understanding how sexual orientation affects the rapid evaluations we form about others, we can learn more about predicting and minimizing the negative consequences of homophobia.”

A second study comprised 14 men and 36 women who were divided into groups in order to view the same 104 photos. One group was educated to approach only whites and disregard blacks by pulling a joystick toward them on seeing a white face and pushing away the joystick on seeing a black face. The other group was instructed the other way, to disregard whites and approach blacks. Faster responses were seen for straight men than gay among participants who approached white males; on the contrary, faster responses were seen for gay blacks than black straights among those participants who approached blacks.

Remedios says, “Given that faster approach responses indicate greater positivity toward stimuli, the second study is consistent with the liking expressed in the first study. These findings suggest that sexual orientation, despite lacking explicit perceptual markers, infiltrates the automatic impression that is formed. Further, our judgment of gay men depends on whether they are white or black.”

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