Attitudes Toward Sexual Orientation Essay Research Paper

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Attitudes Toward Sexual Orientation Essay, Research Paper Running head: ATTITUDES TOWARD SEXUAL ORIENTATION Effects of Personal History on Student Attitudes Toward Sexual Orientation Jordan C. Perry PSYCH 241; Section 1 University of Massachusetts, Amherst Abstract Attitudes toward sexual orientation has been a topic of growing interest in recent years as the climate of acceptance seems to be growing through knowledge and exposure. We chose to measure people?s current attitudes toward sexual orientation and record aspects of their personal history to determine a correlation between the two. A survey was designed and distributed to college students. With the data collected, items were tested for reliability and discarded if they did not prove so. The attitudes were analyzed

with the personal history data, and religiosity, having a friend or family that was gay or bisexual, political affiliation, and whether one?s political and moral views were conservative, liberal, or other proved to be significant to attitudes toward sexual orientation. The relationships between these items and their respective attitudes were explored hypothetically, and it was concluded that diversity in attitudes is healthy. Effects of Personal History on Student Attitudes Toward Sexual Orientation In the past ten years, sexual orientation and the need for its general acceptance has been a growing topic of interest. Around the world but particularly in the United States, legions of men and women are “coming out of the closet” about their homosexuality or bisexuality, and to

a much milder, more accepting environment than in years past (Page, 1998). The subject has even made its way into pop culture, with the television show?albeit a canceled one?Ellen featuring an openly gay lead character. Still, many people, often groups of people, either do not approve of or hold strong reservations against sexual orientations other than heterosexuality. Some religions preach that it is a sin. Other people believe that, by the way our organs are arranged, it simply isn?t natural. This argument, however, can be counteracted by the possibility of a “gay” gene, so far only found in men, and still not considered to be the defining factor in homosexuality, merely one that contributes to it. A number of experiments have been conducted in the past to determine

people?s attitudes toward sexual orientation, and in a few of the more specific experiments (LaMar & Kite, 1998; Lippa & Arad, 1997; Waldo, 1998), the link between these attitudes and their personal histories has been explored. Simply as an example, LaMar and Kite (1998) found that single women were more accepting of homosexuality than married women. Marriage is part of one?s personal history, and here it was shown to have an effect on people?s attitudes toward sexual orientation. So it can be seen that this aspect, personal history, is of chief importance because it is our histories that form our attitudes, and so any opinion or feeling one has toward sexual orientation has been either directly shaped or indirectly influenced by personal history. In our study, we wanted

to further explore the link between attitudes toward sexual orientation and personal history, this time in the more contemporary setting of our peers, college students. We hypothesized that some aspects from a specified list of personal history attributes would correlate with their attitudes toward sexual orientation. We believed this would prove true because of previous experiments conducted correlating personal history with attitudes toward sexual orientation (LaMar & Kite, 1998; Lippa & Arad, 1997; Waldo, 1998) showed such. Method Participants Students of Psychology Methods course at the University of Massachusetts each freely selected participants, for a total of 49 participants. Age was divided into groups for the participants, with 1 being under 18 years of age, 31