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 Patrice Perry, Sean M. Phelan, Diana J. Burgess, Rachel R. Hardeman, Mark W. Yeazel, Michelle van Ryn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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    Burke, S. E., Dovidio, J. F., LaFrance, M., Przedworski, J. M., Perry, S. P., Phelan, S. M., Burgess, D. J., Hardeman, R. R., Yeazel, M. W., & van Ryn, M. (2017). Beyond generalized sexual prejudice: Need for closure predicts negative attitudes toward bisexual people relative to gay/lesbian people. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 71, 145-150. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2017.02.003