A new study shows homophobic people also possess more psychotic personality traits as compared to individuals who are not homophobic.
The study, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, was led by Professor Emmanuele Jannini of the University of Rome. Jannini explored homophobic beliefs as a possible mental illness and found correlations to psychological dysfunctions.
According to the Telegraph, Jannini found that those with homophobic beliefs also have poor coping mechanisms, and their hostile homophobic attitude towards homosexuality may be because they feel confused about their own gender identity.
"After discussing for centuries if homosexuality is to be considered a disease, for the first time we demonstrated that the real disease to be cured is homophobia, associated with potentially severe psychopathologies."
The study looked at 551 Italian university students from the ages of 18 to 30. Subjects were asked to fill out questionnaires on their levels of homophobic beliefs as well as their psychopathology, which included depression, anxiety, and psychoticism (defined as a pattern of aggressiveness and hostility, according to Logo). The questionnaire also measured their coping mechanisms and the way in which the subjects approach relationships.
According to Live Science, the subjects were also asked to rate on a scale from one to five how strongly they agreed or disagreed with certain homophobic and non-homophobic statements. Some of those statements included: Gay people make me nervous; I think homosexual people should not work with children; I tease and makes jokes about gay people; It does not matter to me whether my friends are gay or straight.
The questionnaire helped to determine a person's behavior, behavioral aggression, and negative cognition. The higher the score, the more homophobic the subject.
The researchers found that individuals with poor mental health are more likely to be homophobic. Individuals who are uncomfortable establishing close relationships with others are also more homophobic than those who are comfortable developing close relationships.
The study also found that people who have immature coping strategies (such as passive aggression or denial of a problem) are also more homophobic than those who use more mature coping strategies (such as regulating one's emotions and not depending on others for validation).
Psychoticism was also linked to homophobic behavior, as homophobic individuals also have higher levels of aggression, hostility, and anger. Psychoticism was even linked as a risk factor for being homophobic, further showing that pathologic personality traits are tied to homophobic attitudes.
The study also found that those who are more likely to experience depression are less likely to be homophobic.
According to Live Science, Jannini plans on continuing his research by focusing on male subjects in order to establish if there is a link between homophobic views and not feeling "man enough." This was the first study to link homophobic attitudes to psychoticism.
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