Not “just words”: Exposure to homophobic epithets leads to dehumanizing and physical distancing from gay men

Fabio Fasoli, Maria Paola Paladino, Andrea Carnaghi, Jolanda Jetten, Brock Bastian, Paul G. Bain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We examined whether homophobic epithets (e.g., faggot) function as labels of deviance for homosexuals that contribute to their dehumanization and physical distance. Across two studies, participants were supraliminally (Study 1) and subliminally (Study 2) exposed to a homophobic epithet, a category label, or a generic insult. Participants were then asked to associate human-related and animal-related words to homosexuals and heterosexuals. Results showed that after exposure to a homophobic epithet, compared with a category label or a generic insult, participants associated less human-related words with homosexuals, indicating dehumanization. In Study 2, we also assessed the effect of a homophobic epithet on physical distance from a target group member and found that homophobic epithets led to greater physical distancing of a gay man. These findings indicate that homophobic epithets foster dehumanization and avoidance of gay people, in ways that other insults or labels do not.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-248
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Volume46
Issue number2
Early online date13 Sep 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016

Keywords

  • dehumanization
  • derogatory labels
  • deviance
  • homophobia
  • physical distance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Not “just words”: Exposure to homophobic epithets leads to dehumanizing and physical distancing from gay men'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this