When Perspective Taking Creates a Motivational Threat: The Case of Conservatism, Same-Sex Sexual Behavior, and Anti-Gay Attitudes

Marlon Mooijman*, Chadly Stern

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Taking another person’s perspective has generally been found to foster positive attitudes. We propose that perspective taking can lead to more negative attitudes when people imagine an experience that threatens their current motivations and goals. We test this idea by examining how taking the perspective of a male same-sex couple influences political conservatives’ attitudes. Across four studies, we demonstrate that (a) the extent to which conservatives (but not liberals) imagine same-sex sexual behavior predicts more anti-gay attitudes, (b) this effect is in part attributable to conservatives experiencing greater disgust, and (c) having conservatives reappraise disgust as not necessarily signaling the threat of disease eliminates this effect. These findings indicate that perspective taking can foster negative attitudes when the content of perspective taking threatens current motivations. The proposed ideas provide unique insights toward developing a more comprehensive framework of how perspective taking shapes attitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)738-754
Number of pages17
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Volume42
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2016

Keywords

  • anti-gay attitudes
  • perspective taking
  • political ideology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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