According to a study published online on Feb 26 in the journal Psychological Science, many individuals think that gay men and women are much more sexually promiscuous than heterosexual people, making those heterosexual people afraid that gay people may threaten their marriages and lifestyle.
David Pinsof and Martie Haselton, a graduate student and professor at UCLA were the authors and researchers on this study.
They discovered that those who felt threatened by gays, or more specifically, sexual promiscuity, were people who are conservatives, those who believe in strong traditional gender roles.
Pinsof and Haselton surveyed 523 men and 562 women, a percentage of which oppose same-sex marriage.
For the first half of the experiment, the volunteers underwent a testing activity, specifically designed to expose whether or not the subjects associated gay couples with words or phrases such as “promiscuous” or “one-night stand.”
The people being surveyed were also given pictures of heterosexual couples along with words like “faithful” and “loving” and they were told to match the words to the pictures they felt fit best with each word. They were instructed to press a button when they saw a gay couple or a word associated with “promiscuous”, and the same situation when it came to a gay couple or a word linked with “monogamous.” Pinsof and Haselton then measured how quickly the participants reacted to each picture or word.
As one can predict, the results found that many people tend to associate the concepts “gay” and “promiscuous” together, or having the same meaning.
During the second half of the experiment, participants were asked if they agreed or disagreed to statements like:
“Marriage is between a man and a woman.”
“Same-sex marriage undermines the meaning of the traditional family.”
“I oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage.”
“I support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.”
“Same-sex couples should have the same legal rights to get married as heterosexual couples.”
The researchers discovered that agreement to certain statements like “I’m okay with having sex without love,” or “ I’ve had a one-night stand,” showed that they support same-sex marriage and have no problem with gay people.
According to Pinsof, “Those who oppose same-sex marriage do so because they are trying to protect their own marriage as well as those marriages in their community. They’re fearful that altering the definition of marriage is threatening their way of life because they view gay people as promiscuous, they view the idea of same sex marriage as undermining the institution of marriage.”