Beyond generalized sexual prejudice: Need for closure predicts negative attitudes toward bisexual people relative to gay/lesbian people

Sara E. Burke, John F. Dovidio, Marianne LaFrance, Julia M. Przedworski, Sylvia P. Perry, Sean M. Phelan, Diana J. Burgess, Rachel R. Hardeman, Mark W. Yeazel, Michelle van Ryn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Increasing evidence suggests that bisexual people are sometimes evaluated more negatively than heterosexual and gay/lesbian people. A common theoretical account for this discrepancy argues that bisexuality is perceived by some as introducing ambiguity into a binary model of sexuality. The present brief report tests a single key prediction of this theory, that evaluations of bisexual people have a unique relationship with Need for Closure (NFC), a dispositional preference for simple ways of structuring information. Participants (n = 3406) were heterosexual medical students from a stratified random sample of 49 U.S. medical schools. As in prior research, bisexual targets were evaluated slightly more negatively than gay/lesbian targets overall. More importantly for the present investigation, higher levels of NFC predicted negative evaluations of bisexual people after accounting for negative evaluations of gay/lesbian people, and higher levels of NFC also predicted an explicit evaluative preference for gay/lesbian people over bisexual people. These results suggest that differences in evaluations of sexual minority groups partially reflect different psychological processes, and that NFC may have a special relevance for bisexual targets even beyond its general association with prejudice. The practical value of testing this theory on new physicians is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-150
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume71
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017

Keywords

  • Bisexuality
  • Need for closure
  • Prejudice
  • Sexual orientation

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