The opposite of backlash: High-SDO people show enhanced tolerance when gay people pose little threat


Correspondence to: Angela Bahns, Department of Psychology, Wellesley College, 106 Central Street, Wellesley, MA, 02481, USA.



We tested how perceived threat to group position affects the relationship between beliefs about the acceptability of social inequality—as measured by social dominance orientation (SDO)—and discrimination. We hypothesized that high-SDO heterosexuals would respond with increased discrimination when they perceived status gains for gays. In a pilot study, we found that SDO correlated with gay prejudice and with perceiving gays to be gaining status. In an experiment, we manipulated the perceived status of gays and measured SDO, traditional values, and money donated to anti-gay causes. SDO was correlated with more anti-gay donations, except when gays were perceived to be low in status; then people high in SDO discriminated less, making fewer anti-gay donations in the Low compared to the Gain and Control status conditions. By contrast, traditional values were correlated with more anti-gay donations in all conditions, and the correlation was especially strong in the Low status condition. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.