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Evaluations and Aggression Directed at a Gay Male Target: The Role of Threat and Antigay Prejudice1


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    Research contained in this report was partially funded by a Clara Mayo Research Grant from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. The authors acknowledge Scott Saults for designing the computer program utilized in Experiment 2 to assess aggressive behavior. We also thank Corey Miller, Brent Showalter, and Scott Walker for their help in collecting these data, and Lisa Molix for her help in developing pilot materials. Finally, we thank the anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments on earlier versions of the manuscript.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Amelia E. Talley, Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri, 3 McAlester Hall, Columbia, MO 65211. E-mail:


This research was designed to understand heterosexual men's interpersonal reactions toward a gay male individual and to examine how threat and pre-existing antigay prejudice impact these encounters. In one experiment, we manipulated the ostensible sexual orientation of an assigned work partner and assessed participants' perceptions of threat indirectly, using a measure of psychological distancing. Results revealed that, regardless of antigay prejudice, participants psychologically distanced more from the gay male than from the heterosexual male. In the second experiment, we manipulated threat and the sexual orientation of the work partner to examine aggressive responding toward the work partner. Participants exposed to a threat to their masculinity behaved more aggressively toward the gay work partner, regardless of their level of antigay prejudice.