A new study has shown that homophobic people are much more likely to suffer from mental issues than non-homophobic people. These issues may include aggression, bursts of anger, and physical hostility.
Italian researchers say that individuals who have an incredibly negative view of gays and lesbians generally have poor coping mechanisms and high levels of psychoticism, whereas individuals who don’t have negative view of gays and lesbians generally have good coping mechanisms and low levels of psychoticism.
Homophobic people have long been the subject of scientific debates, with some studies concluding that they have such passionate negative reactions to gays and lesbians because they themselves have a secret sexual desires for a same-sex relationship, and other studies concluding that homophobic people are genuinely repulsed by the notion of having a sexual relationship with a person of the same sex.
Emmanuele Jannini, medical sexologist and endocrinologist with the University of Rome Tor Vergata and lead researcher on the study, and his colleagues have also informed that people’s opinions of same-sex relationships are usually heavily influenced by factors such as hypermasculinity, misogynistic attitude, an individual’s religious orientation and sensitivity to disgust.
The research team was particularly interested in investigating the psychopathology and mental health of homophobic people. To do this, they turned their attention to more than 550 of their students, all with an age somewhere between 18 and 30.
The first step was to ask their subjects to rate 25 statements that revealed their levels of homophobia. The students had to use a number from 1 to 5 to express how much they how much they agreed or disagreed with these sentences.
Some of the examples include “I think homosexual people should not work with children”, “gay people make me nervous”, and “It does not matter to me whether my friends are gay or straight”.
In the second faze of the study, the students had to answer various questions that revealed their attachment style, or the way that they approach a relationship.
Individuals who feel comfortable getting close to someone else and having this person get close to them are though to have a healthy attachment style, or secure attachment. But individuals who have a habit of avoiding intimate relationships, feel uncomfortable developing trust with someone else and become too clingy are though to have an unhealthy attachment style, or insecure attachment.
A third and final set of questions was designed to assess what type of defense mechanism each student had. Individuals who have a mature (or healthy) defense mechanism are generally good at regulation their own emotions and don’t look at someone else for validation. But individuals who have an immature (or unhealthy) defense mechanism generally act impulsively, have a tendency to adopt passive aggressive behavior and the habit of denying the presence of a problem.
After analyzing all of these answers, the researchers came to the conclusion that people are likely to be homophobic if they feel uncomfortable being in a close relationship with another person and if they have immature defense mechanisms.
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