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Annelyse Pereira, Maria Benedicta Monteiro, Leoncio Camino Social Norms and Prejudice against Homosexuals The Spanish Journal of Psychology, vol. 12, núm. 2, noviembre, 2009, pp. 576-584, Universidad Complutense de Madrid España Available in: http://www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=17213008017
The Spanish Journal of Psychology, ISSN (Printed Version): 1138-7416 [email protected]
Universidad Complutense de Madrid España
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The Spanish Journal of Psychology 2009, Vol. 12, No. 2, 576-584
Copyright 2009 by The Spanish Journal of Psychology ISSN 1138-7416
Social Norms and Prejudice against Homosexuals Annelyse Pereira1, Maria Benedicta Monteiro1, and Leoncio Camino2 1Instituto
Superior de Ciências do Trabalho e da Empresa ISCTE (Portugal) 2Universidade Federal da Paraíba (Brazil)
Different studies regarding the role of norms on the expression of prejudice have shown that the anti-prejudice norm influences people to inhibit prejudice expressions. However, if norm pressure has led to a substantial decrease in the public expression of prejudice against certain targets (e.g., blacks, women, blind people), little theoretical and empirical attention has been paid to the role of this general norm regarding sexual minorities (e.g., prostitutes, lesbians and gays). In this sense, the issue we want to address is whether general anti-prejudice norms can reduce the expression of prejudice against homosexual individuals. In this research we investigate the effect of activating an anti-prejudice norm against homosexuals on blatant and subtle expressions of prejudice. The anti-prejudice norm was experimentally manipulated and its effects were observed on rejection to intimacy (blatant prejudice) and on positive-negative emotions (subtle prejudice) regarding homosexuals. 136 university students were randomly allocated to activated-norm and control conditions and completed a questionnaire that included norm manipulation and the dependent variables. A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) as well as subsequent ANOVAS showed that only in the high normative pressure condition participants expressed less rejection to intimacy and less negative emotions against homosexuals, when compared to the simple norm-activation and the control conditions. Positive emotions, however, were similar both in the high normative pressure and the control conditions. We concluded that a high anti-prejudice pressure regarding homosexuals could reduce blatant prejudice but not subtle prejudice, considering that the expression of negative emotions decreased while the expression of positive emotions remained stable. Keywords: prejudice, social norms, homosexuality, emotions.
Diversos estudios acerca del papel que juegan las normas en la expresión del prejuicio han mostrado que la norma antiprejuicio influye a las personas para que inhiban las expresiones de prejuicio. Sin embargo, si bien la presión de una norma ha llevado a un descenso sustancial de la expresión pública del prejuicio contra determinados objetivos (e.g., negros, mujeres, personas ciegas), se ha prestado poca atención teórica y empírica al rol de esta norma general con respecto a las minorías sexuales (e.g., prostitutas, lesbianas y gays). En este sentido, la cuestión que queremos abordar es si las normas generales anti-prejuicio pueden reducir la expresión del prejuicio contra los individuos homosexuales. En esta investigación examinamos el efecto de activar una norma anti-prejuicio contra los homosexuales sobre las expresiones abiertas y sutiles de prejuicio. La norma anti-prejuicio se manipuló experimentalmente y se observaron sus efectos sobre el rechazo a la intimidad (prejuicio abierto) y las emociones positivas y negativas (prejuicio sutil) con respecto a los homosexuales. Se asignaron al azar a 136 estudiantes universitarios a las condiciones norma-activada y control y completaron un cuestionario que incluía la manipulación de la norma y las variables dependientes. Un análisis de varianza multivariado (MANOVA) y ANOVAs subsiguientes mostraron que sólo en la condición de alta presión normativa los participantes expresaron menos rechazo a la intimidad y menos emociones negativas contra los homosexuales, comparados con las condiciones de activación simple de la norma y control. Sin embargo, las emociones positivas eran similares tanto en las condiciones de alta presión normativa como en la del control. Concluimos que la alta presión anti-prejuicio hacia de los homosexuales podría reducir el prejuicio abierto pero no el prejuicio sutil, considerando que la expresión de las emociones negativas descendió mientras que la expresión de las emociones positivas se mantuvo estable. Palabras clave: prejuicio, normas sociales, homosexualidad, emociones.
This paper was funded by the Fundação para Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT - Lisbon, Portugal) through a PhD grant to the 1st author (ref. SFRH/BD/23218/2005). Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Annelyse Pereira, Rua: dos Escritores, 7, 1º B, 2685-207, Portela LRS, (Portugal). E-mail: [email protected]
NORMS AND PREJUDICE
Social norms may be understood as rules which define a pattern of thinking as well as an appropriate or desirable behaviour for members of a group. These explicit or implicit rules prescribe attitudes and manners of social behaviour, and are structured via social values (Hogg & Vaughan, 1995; M. Sherif, 1967). The influence of social norms on individual and group behaviour was primarily studied by Sherif (1936/1964). For this author, individual ideologies and belief systems are based on social norms of groups with which the person identifies in such manner that individual points of view and behaviours are, largely, a reflection of the group norms (external pressure) that the individual has internalized (internal pressure) (for a review, see Lima, 2002). Also, in the “Nature of Prejudice”, Allport (1954/1979) dedicates a chapter to the role of norms in a specific area of behaviour, the study of prejudice, that he defines as “an adverse or hostile attitude in relation to a member of a group, simply by belonging to this group” (p.7). However, counter-acting other more intra-personal models, such as the theory of frustration-aggression (Dollar, Doob, Miller, Mowrer, & Sears. 1939/1967), and the theory of authoritarian personality (Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswick, Levinson, & Sanford, 1950), the sustained analysis of the direct influence of norms on prejudice only began to be developed within Social Psychology in the late 50s. Following Allport’s work (1954/1979), Pettigrew (1958) conducted the first empirical analyses on the role of norms in the expression of racist attitudes in South Africa and in the United States of America, where the author found that racism resulted much more from cultural norm pressure than from individual social actors’ personality. The relationship between norms and racist behaviour was also studied by Minard (1952) in the Pocahontas coal mines in the USA. This author verified the importance of the context of the interaction in the activation of social norms: The Caucasian miners discriminated against their Black colleagues in certain contexts, specifically on the street, in bars or in public transports, where the predominant social norm was segregation; however, this attitude was not extended to all contexts, since within the mines, in work relations, the Caucasian miners displayed more egalitarian attitudes towards their Black mates. Another aspect of the relationship between norms and prejudice was proposed by Kelman (1958) upon investigating the effect of conformity to group norms and social behaviour. According to this author, social norms affect individuals through three processes: acceptance, which occurs when individuals accept a norm because they intend to obtain the approval of another person or another group; identification, that occurs when individuals adopt a standard attitude or behaviour in order to maintain good relations with another person or group; and, internalization, which occurs when individuals accept a norm because they intrinsically value it. Thus, overt or covert expressions of racial prejudice may reflect, according to this author, that
one or more of these processes are taking place: mere situational compliance with the norm, identification or an actual norm internalisation. Pettigrew and Meertens (1995) later conducted a study on European citizens across four nations, in which the prejudice measure against racial minorities in Europe integrated a blatant and a subtle dimension. The Blatant prejudice scale included two factors: threat/rejection and anti-intimacy. As for the subtle prejudice scale, three components held to underlie racist attitudes: the defence of traditional values, such as work and success; the exaggeration of cultural differences, and the denial of positive emotions towards out-group members. Pettigrew and Meertens (1995) derived a three cell typology of prejudiced individuals from the combination of the blatant and subtle dimensions: bigots, who displayed high scores on both scales; subtles, who were low on the Blatant but high on the Subtle scale; and Egalitarians or non-prejudiced individuals, who presented low scores on both scales. Thus, according to this typology, bigots or overtly prejudiced individuals are those who do not accept the social norm of equality, while subtles are those who, despite having accepted that norm, and even identified with it, have not internalized it in such manner that, in a propitious context, it results that they may express prejudiced attitudes (ex: ‘to leave intergroup relations as they are’). Egalitarians, of course, are supposed to be those who have accepted and internalized the norm of equality (Pettigrew & Meertens, 1995). More recently, Lacerda, Pereira and Camino (2002) identified a typology similar to the one found by Pettigrew & Meertens, regarding the expression of prejudice against homosexuals. These authors state that bigots (those who display blatant prejudice) express anti-intimacy attitudes, as well as more negative than positive emotions towards homosexuals. In turn, subtles (those who display a veiled prejudice) express less anti-intimacy attitudes and fewer negative emotions than blatants, but do not express more positive emotions towards homosexuals. Finally, egalitarians (or non-prejudiced persons), express less anti-intimacy attitudes, fewer negative emotions, and more positive emotions than both subtles and bigots. Therefore, we believe that the criteria used for the analysis of other forms of prejudice, such as those proposed by Pettigrew and Meertens (1995), can also be useful to understand how straight individuals express their attitudes towards the stigmatised group of male homosexuals. Recently, Terry, Hogg, and Blackwood (2001) confirmed that the adoption of group norms occurs because the individuals seeks to validate their self-concept in the sense of being accepted and feeling included in the group to which they belong. These authors highlighted the role of variables that moderate the effect of social norms on racism, such as the degree of identification with the in-group or the status of the member in the group. According to these studies, we may think that social norms influence the explicit expression of prejudice, but
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this has been found only in relation to groups that are efficiently protected by the norm that they uphold. According to Crandall, Eshleman, & O’Brien (2002), the understanding of the role of social norms in the expressions of prejudice necessarily leads to the acknowledgment that some forms of prejudice are anti-normative, or socially condemned (e.g., racial prejudice), while others are socially accepted (e.g., homophobia). In their research, the authors found that negative attitudes against social groups were better predicted by the normative character of the prejudice in question: The more the expression of that prejudice against certain groups was socially acceptable, the greater was their rejection (e.g., homosexuals, prostitutes, immigrants). The same result was found in relation to different groups in a study on socialization of prejudice in White children aged 9 to 10 years: The children indicated that they did not like the groups against which their mothers found it acceptable to discriminate (i.e. homosexuals, dirty persons, people with AIDS), and indicated, on the contrary, that, they liked the groups against which their mothers refused to discriminate (i.e., blind people, Indians, blacks, ugly or fat people) (França & Monteiro, 2004). It is obvious that this does not mean that the groups in the study in question (Crandall et al., 2002) can be considered similar from a moral or a behavioural point of view. What the study shows is only that, in every society, at different times, it is acceptable to express prejudice against some groups, but it is not acceptable to express prejudice against others. However, do norms work out in the same fashion in relation to all minority group targets? In this study, we intend to show that a general norm against prejudice and discrimination towards minority groups may not be sufficient to inhibit the overt expression of prejudice against highly stigmatized groups, such as homosexuals, and that a higher pressure is needed to reduce these expressions of prejudice, both at the attitudinal and at the emotional levels. The study of emotions is justified by the fact that research has shown that emotions are important in the definition of attitudes and psychological processes in general (Guglielmi, 1999; Scherer, 1992; Vala, 1997; Zajonc, 1998), and, in particular, in studies in which the target-group is a minority group (Camino & Pereira, 2000; Lacerda et al., 2002; Pereira, 2004; Pereira, Torres, & Pereira, 2004). In these studies, college students were asked how frequently they felt positive and negative emotions regarding homosexuals and prostitutes. Moreover, based on the hypothesis developed by Pettigrew and Meertens (1995) that the emotional dimension was critical in the expression of subtle prejudice, we reiterate the idea that intergroup relations are organized around cognitive as much as emotional dimensions (Leyens & Dardenne, 1996; Vala, Brito, & Lopes, 1999). Research indeed shows that subtle prejudice may be expressed more through the denial of positive emotions than through the expression of negative emotions towards the out-group (Meertens & Pettigrew,
1999; Pettigrew, 1999; Vala et al., 1999). Additionally, considering that prejudice against homosexuals is strongly influenced by the gender of the participants, as shown in a series of studies in this area (e.g., Brandyberry & MacNair, 1996; Camino & Pereira, 2000; Hogan & Rentz, 1996), this variable was controlled for in the present study. The enforcement of the egalitarian norm in intergroup relations, that indicates that everyone should enjoy the same rights before the law seems, therefore, to be dependent on the strength of its social acceptance. Thus, in democratic societies, it is uncommon that someone overtly states one’s disagreement with the enforcement of equal rights for both black and white people and it is unlikely that someone organizes a demonstration to demand that the Parliament approves a new law prohibiting the marriage between Black people and White people. Much less would they risk if they organized a petition to demand the approval of a law prohibiting the adoption of a child by an interracial couple. However, regarding sexual minorities, specifically homosexuals, the enforcement of the egalitarian norm appears to be more intricate and polemic. Until now no studies on the relationship between the anti-prejudice norm and the expression of prejudice against homosexuals have been published. Some research conducted on other minority groups (i.e. blacks) showed that the activation of the anti-racist norm is effective to decrease prejudice against this target group. In fact, Katz and Hass (1988) showed that, after the activation of the norm of egalitarianism, white participants expressed less prejudice against black people. Using a similar paradigm, Vala, Lima and Pereira (2006) also showed that the simple activation of egalitarianism was sufficient to reduce implicit prejudice against black people. The issue that we intend to address in the present study is the following: If social pressure exerted by social norms has brought an outstanding decrease of the public expression of prejudice against some target groups (e.g., blacks), why is it that the anti-prejudice norm does not seem to work regarding the expression of prejudice against homosexuals (Frank & McEneaney, 1999)? We think that the reduction of this prejudice can only occur, not only when the anti- discrimination norm against homosexuals is very salient, but also when individuals can be personally accounted for its fulfilment. In order to address this hypothesis, we manipulated three levels of activation of the anti-prejudice norm against homosexuals: 1) the simple norm-activation with low normative pressure, 2) the norm activation with high enforcement pressure, and 3) the absence of norm activation and pressure (control), and we observed its effects on the expression of prejudice against homosexuals. We considered as expressions of prejudice, both the attitudinal dimension, specifically the rejection to intimacy regarding homosexuals (Pettigrew & Merteens, 1995), and the emotional dimension, which refers to the expression of positive and negative emotions towards homosexual targets (Lacerda et al., 2002; Pettigrew & Merteens, 1995).
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Hypotheses The expression of prejudiced attitudes against homosexuals will be lower in the High normative pressure condition than in the condition in which the norm is simply activated (Simple norm-activation condition) and in the Control condition (H1); there should be no different effects between the Simple norm-activation and the Control conditions on the expression of prejudiced attitudes towards homosexuals (H1.1); The expression of positive emotions should be greater in the High normative pressure condition than in the Simple norm-activation condition and the Control condition (H2); No differences are expected between the Simple activation and the Control conditions on the expression of positive emotions towards homosexuals (H2.1). The expression of negative emotions should be lower in the High normative pressure condition than in the Simple norm-activation condition and the Control condition (H3); No differences are expected between the Simple activation and the Control conditions on the expression of negative emotions towards homosexuals (H3.1).
the National Commission for Human Rights, to explain your responses, as this Centre for the Support for Policies of Equality and Social Justice has been informed of this study. Thank you in advance for your cooperation”.
Right beneath this paragraph, participants entered their full name, address, and telephone number for the expected contact. Once the post-experimental debriefing was completed, the experimenter returned to the participants the page containing their personal information. In the Simple norm-activation condition, the instructions were as follows: “This study intends to evaluate people’s opinions regarding matters related to sexual behaviour. Remember, there are no incorrect responses, since what interests us is your personal opinion on the matter. We must inform you that this study is known to the Centre for the Support of Policies for Equality and Social Justice of the National Commission on Human Rights. Thank you in advance for your cooperation”.
In the Control condition, participants were told that they were asked to participate in a survey regarding human sexual behaviour; no reference appeared to the pretended Centre, and anonymity was guaranteed.
Measures of Homophobic Prejudice Method Participants 136 Portuguese university students participated (68% were female) in the study. Data collection was conducted in Lisbon, in November of 2005. Participants were randomly distributed into three experimental conditions, in an unifactorial design: High normative pressure condition (n = 47); Simple normactivation condition (n = 45); Control condition (n = 44). The experimenter informed the participants that their cooperation was voluntary, and that they had the option, for ethical reasons, to refuse collaboration or to withdraw from the study at any time. They were also informed that the data would ultimately be published in a journal of the specialty on condition of anonymity.
Manipulation of the Anti-Prejudice Norm The participants were invited to collaborate in a study involving beliefs regarding sexual behaviour. The experimental manipulation was introduced on the first page of the questionnaire. In the High normative pressure condition, the instructions were as follows: “This study intends to evaluate people’s opinions regarding matters related to sexual behaviour. Remember, there are no incorrect responses, since what interests us is your personal opinion on the matter. We would like to request that you indicate your personal data for later contact. We need this information because you may be invited (a) by the Centre for the Support of Policies for Equality and Social Justice of
Rejection to intimacy. The prejudiced attitude towards homosexuals was assessed on a scale proposed by Lacerda et al. (2002) to measure the rejection to intimacy with homosexuals. This 10-item scale is an adaptation of Pettigrew & Meertens’ (1995) sub-scale of blatant prejudice. Participants indicated, on a Likert-type scale from 1 (very comfortable) to 7 (very embarrassed), “To what extent do you feel embarrassed in each of the following situations?” The Factorial Analysis (method of principal-axes) performed on the data (Table 1) only extracted one factor explaining Table 1 Scale of rejection to intimacy with homosexuals Items
Talking with gay persons Having a friend who is a committed homosexual Having a gay colleague in your College work group Receiving a gay couple as guests in your home If your son had a gay friend Having a gay teacher Living with gay persons To find out that a close relative is gay To see gay couples expressing mutual love To have a gay child
0.82 0.81 0.78 0.77 0.77 0.75 0.72 0.67 0.63 0.61
Eigenvalue Cronbach alpha Mean Standard deviation
4.41 0.87 2.36 0.83
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44.05% of the data variance, thus confirming the onedimensional character of the scale. Therefore, an index for the Rejection to intimacy variable was computed for each participant via the mean score of their responses to the 10 items. Expression of emotions: This scale was adapted from the positive and negative emotions list in Dijker’s study (1989), which analysed the affective dimensions involved in prejudice. Another version of the same scale was used by Lacerda et al. (2002) in their study on social representations of homosexuality. The scale of negative and positive emotions towards homosexuals consists of 10 emotions. Five of these emotions are positive (tenderness, admiration, satisfaction, respect, and acceptance), and five are negative (sickness, anger, pity, sadness, and contempt). Participants indicated, on a scale varying from 1 (never) to 7 (very often), “How often do you feel the following emotions towards gay people?” The Factorial Analysis (principal axes method, Varimax rotation) performed on individual data (Table 2) extracted two factors that explained 48% of the data variance. The first factor aggregated all negative emotions, while the second factor aggregated all positive emotions. The internal consistency for these subscales was acceptable; therefore an index of positive emotions and an index of negative emotions per participant were computed through the mean score of the items for each factor. Table 2 Scale of emotions in relation to homosexuals Items Contempt Anger Sickness Pity Sadness
Negative Emotions 0.73 0.71 0.61 0.61 0.60
Satisfaction Tenderness Admiration Respect Acceptance Eigenvalues Cronbach alpha Mean Standard deviation
The manipulation of the norm was pre-tested with thirty university students (10 in each experimental condition). After being submitted to the anti-prejudice norm manipulation in the three conditions, participants answered to a measure of agreement with the egalitarian norm, created by Katz and Hass (1989) and validated in Portugal by Lima (2002), as an operationalization of the anti-prejudice norm (e.g., “There should be equality among all”; “In all things in life, all people should have equal opportunities“; “We are all obligated to act in the defence of interests and rights of all members of our society”). The responses to the 3 items varied from 1 (lowest agreement with the norm) to 7 (highest agreement with the norm), and the scale presented a good internal consistency (alpha = .73). An index of Agreement with equalitarian attitudes was thus computed as the mean value of participants answers to the three items. A one-way ANOVA was subsequently performed to check on the effect of the anti-prejudice norm manipulation on the Agreement index. The results showed a significant effect of the norm manipulation on participants Agreement index, F(2, 27) = 56.20, p < .001. Multiple comparisons (LSD to p < .05) indicated that this Agreement index was higher in the High normative pressure condition (M = 6.18, SD = 0.33) than in the Simple norm-activation condition (M = 5.17, SD = 0.24) and in the Control condition (M = 4.53, SD = 0.45). Besides, agreement with the norm was higher in the Simple norm-activation condition than in the Control condition. These results confirmed the power of the anti-prejudice norm manipulation on an anti-prejudice measure.
0.95 0.73 0.56 0.31 0.27 2.92 0.77 1.74 0.78
1.78 0.68 3.84 0.99
We conducted a Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA)1 considering the manipulation of anti-prejudice norm and the gender of participants as between-subjects factors, and rejection to intimacy, negative emotions and positive emotions in relation to homosexuals as the dependent variables. The results showed that the main multivariate effects of the manipulation of the anti-prejudice norm and of gender were significant: FNorm(6, 256) = 3.55, p < .01, 2 = .07; FGender(3, 127) = 4.27, p < .01, 2 = .09. Of greater importance for our hypotheses was the fact that the interaction between norm manipulation and
1 According to the recommendations made by Tabchinick and Fidell (2001) for multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA), the inspection of skewness and kurtosis of prejudice measures indicated that only the scale of negative emotions presented a slight asymmetry in its distribution. Of greater importance, the covariance matrices of prejudice measures did not differ significantly among the groups, Box’M = 21.13, F (12, 79476) = 1.70, n.s. Also, missing data and outliers, either univariate or multivariate, were not included.
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gender was not significant, F(6, 256) = 1.22, ns. This result shows that both the norm manipulation and gender independently influenced the expressions of prejudice against homosexuals. Subsequent univariate analyses showed that, compared to men, women presented significantly lower rejection to intimacy (MWomen= 2.24, SD = .77; MMen= 2.63, SD = .92), F(1, 129) = 10.74, p < .001, 2 = .08, a higher expression of positive emotions (MWomen= 3.98, SD = 1.01; MMen= 3.54, SD = .90), F(1, 129) = 6.62, p < .05, 2 = .05, and, marginally, a lower expression of negative emotions (MWomen= 1.68, SD = .81; MMen= 1.87, SD = .72), F(1, 129) = 2.91, p = .09, 2 = .02. Of greater theoretical importance was the univariate effect of norm manipulation on the rejection to intimacy, F (2, 129) = 7.78, p < .001, 2 = .11 (see Figure 1). Multiple comparisons (LSD to p < .05) have shown, as predicted in H1, that rejection to intimacy was significantly lower in the High normative pressure condition (M = 2.06, SD = 0.66) than in the Simple norm-activation condition (M = 2.58, SD = 0.91) and in the Control condition (M = 2.46, SD = 0.84). Also, as predicted (H1.1), no differences were found between the Simple norm-activation condition (M = 2.58, SD = 0.91) and Control condition (M = 2.46, SD = 0.84). Also, the effect of the manipulation of the anti-prejudice norm on the expression of positive emotions was significant F (2, 129) = 3.92, p < .05, 2 = .06. Multiple comparisons (LSD to p < .05) have shown that the expression of positive emotions was significantly higher in the High normative pressure condition (M = 4.00, SD = 0.95) than in the Simple norm-activation condition (M = 3.45, SD = 0, 87), but was not significantly different from the Control condition (M = 4.08, SD = 1.05). This result partially confirmed H2. Moreover, there was no difference between the Control and the Simple norm-activation conditions. This result confirmed H2.1.
Figure 1. Rejection to intimacy, positive emotions and negative emotions against homosexuals in the three anti-prejudice norm conditions
The effect of the manipulation of the anti-prejudice norm on the expression of negative emotions was marginally significant, F (2, 129) = 2.75, p < .07, 2 = .04. Multiple comparisons (LSD to p < .05) showed, however, that negative emotions were significantly lower in the High normative pressure condition (M = 1.56, SD = 0.53) than in the Control condition (M = 1.80, SD = 0.72), and were marginally (p = .08) lower than in the Simple normactivation condition (M = 1.86, SD = 1.01). This result confirmed H3. Similar to what has been found for positive emotions, negative emotions were not different in the Simple norm-activation and the Control conditions. This result confirmed H3.1. Equally important was the fact that the effects of norm manipulation were not moderated by participants’ gender in any of the prejudice measures FRejection to Intimacy (2, 129) = 2.90, ns.; FPositive Emotions (2, 129) = 1.89, ns.; FNegative Emotions (2, 129) = 1.48, ns.
Discussion In this study, we experimentally analysed the influence of normative pressure of the anti-prejudice norm on the expression of prejudice against homosexuals. Our proposal follows the tradition of research in Social Psychology which enhances the importance of contextual and normative factors at the basis of prejudiced attitudes (Allport, 1954; Crandall et al., 2002; Pettigrew, 1958, 1959; Sherif, 1936/1964). More specifically, the study presented here joins the socialpsychological literature on the relevance of anti-prejudice norms on the reduction of explicit expressions of prejudice. We proposed that the simple activation of this norm in the experimental context could not be sufficient to reduce prejudice against the particular group of homosexuals. Specifically, we proposed that bias reduction would only occur when individuals felt socially pressured, i.e., when greater social control of the norm would occur (e.g., by requesting participants’ personal information and thus making them accountable for their attitudes). Consistent with the hypotheses, the results showed that the manipulation of the anti-prejudice norm influenced the expression of prejudice against homosexuals: indeed, lower expression of prejudice was found in the High normative pressure condition than in the other two conditions. Specifically, participants in that condition presented a lower level of rejection to intimacy, expressed fewer negative emotions and more positive emotions than participants in the other two conditions. These results confirmed our hypotheses that, because this social group is not actually protected by the general anti-prejudice norm, the reduction of prejudice against them would only occur when individuals felt direct social pressure to hold on the anti-prejudice norm. It is worth mentioning the similarity of results between the Simple norm-activation condition and the Control condition for the expression of prejudice against homosexuals.
PEREIRA, MONTEIRO, AND CAMINO
This result seems to indicate that the simple activation of the anti-prejudice norm was not sufficient to reduce prejudice against homosexuals. Moreover, it is consistent with the empirical evidence already established in some research which has shown that the anti-prejudice norm cannot counteract the prevailing prejudiced attitudes towards sexual minorities, such as gays or prostitutes (e.g., Camino & Pereira, 2000; Lacerda et al. 2002; Pereira et al., 2004). In fact, while the simple activation of the norm is sufficient to reduce prejudice against black people (e.g., Biernat et al., 1996; França & Monteiro, 2004; Katz & Hass, 1988; Katz et al., 1986; Vala et al., 2006) the simple activation of the same norm is not sufficient to reduce prejudice against gay people (e.g., Frank & McEneaney, 1999; Monteith, Deneen, & Tooman, 1996), since this prejudiced attitude is normatively more tolerable than prejudice against groups socially protected by the anti-prejudice norm (as shown by Crandall et al., 2002). This literature has suggested that people can easily suppress overt expressions of prejudice against certain target-groups (Crosby, Bromley, & Saxe, 1980; Katz & Hass, 1988; Kinder & Sears, 1981; McConahay, 1986; Pettigrew & Meertens, 1995). For example, empirical evidence in this domain has established that the expression of prejudice against black people has changed in the last fifty years (Dovidio & Gaertner, 1996; McConahay, Hardee, & Batts, 1981), such that it mainly occurs, under very special circumstances, in more covert or indirect forms that may justify its expression (Dovidio & Gaertner, 1986). However, research has also shown that the public expression of prejudice against some groups (e.g., gays, prostitutes, handicapped, gypsies) is high, suggesting that these groups are not protected by the anti-prejudice norm (Crandall et al., 2002). The effect of norms on people’s behaviour has been interpreted as the reflex of various psychological mechanisms. For example, people act according to a norm insofar as it is incorporated into their self-concept (Cialdini, Kallgren, & Reno, 1991). From this perspective, people tend to act according to normative expectations motivated by a mechanism of internal coherence: failure to comply with the norm would be incoherent with the person’s selfconcept, would cause reduced self-esteem and psychological discomfort. This concept corresponds to the idea of internalization of the norm as proposed by Kelman (1958). Another mechanism that makes the norm work is that of conformism: in this context, prejudice reduction would have occurred as a strategy to prevent punishment for noncompliance with what would be constitutionally correct. This second possibility approaches more the phenomenon of simple acceptance of the norm, as described in Kelman’s typology (1958). This distinction also corresponds to the results found in the literature regarding motivational processes subjacent to the anti-prejudice norm (Dunton & Fazio, 1997; Plant & Devine, 1998): The internal motivation is the result of
internalized anti-prejudice standards that are personally important to the person’s self-concept. External motivation, in turn, is the result of social pressure to conform to the norm. Overall, the data from this study do not allow us to respond to a very important question: Why are some minority groups protected by the anti-prejudice norm while others are not? We have not succeeded in answering to this question in this research, because we still haven’t the means to indicate which type of mechanism was responsible for the effect observed under the High normative pressure condition. Future research could explore whether the mediating mechanism is that of internalization or of simple compliance with the norm (Sherif, 1936/1964). Even so, given that a simple activation of the norm was not sufficient to reduce prejudice, one might suppose that the process responsible for reduction of prejudice under the High normative pressure condition is that which corresponds to mere acceptance of the norm, according to Kelman’s typology (1958), or that of external motivation to respond without prejudice, as proposed by Plant and Devine (1998). In this sense, if the mechanism were that of internalization, participants under the simple norm-activation condition would have presented lower levels of prejudice than participants under the control condition, i.e., one would expect that the presence of the norm would be sufficient to activate internalized anti-prejudice standards, resulting in less prejudice. Thus, as we verified that prejudice reduction only happened in the High normative pressure condition, it is likely that the activated process has been that of compliance with the norm. The observed reduction of prejudice would therefore simply indicate a preventive strategy against public condemnation. Anyway, the adoption of one strategy or the other seems to imply some degree of awareness that the expression of the homophobic prejudice in that context would be an undesired action, and, thus, both personally and socially condemned. Another relevant result in this study is the effect of participants’ gender on the expression of prejudice against homosexuals. As has already been abundantly verified in past research, also in this study, women consistently presented a lower level of prejudice against male homosexuals when compared to men (Herek, 2000). This result has been explained based on the idea that men and women have differing beliefs regarding masculinity and femininity and gender roles, and, for this reason, women would feel less threatened than men in their sexual role (Whitley, 2001). Another explanation is that women would internalize normative standards more rapidly than men in regard to sexual roles (Wood, Christensen, Hebl, & Rothgerber, 1997). Ratcliff, Lassiter, Markman and Snyder (2006) suggested that this effect occurs because women have greater internal motivation to respond without prejudice than men. This motivation has shown to be a mediator of the effect of gender on prejudice against homosexuals, which would represent a greater internalization of the norm by women.
NORMS AND PREJUDICE
However, the results of our study show that, at the contextual level, the simple activation of the anti-prejudice norm did not reduce the expression of prejudice in either men or women. More importantly, when the normative context highly pushed for the suppression of prejudice, male and female participants presented similar lower levels of prejudice than participants in the other conditions. Importantly, no interaction was found between gender and norm manipulation. In other words, participants’ gender did not moderate the effect of normative pressure on prejudice reduction. From a theoretical standpoint, this result is important because it shows that a high normative pressure is able to reduce manifestations of prejudice, independent from gender or personal motivation to control prejudice, i.e., the norm seems to be effective both in individuals with higher levels of prejudice (men) and individuals with lower levels of prejudice (women). At a broader level this work provides evidence of how important normative pressure and social accountability can be to counteract the expression of prejudice towards the homosexual minority.
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Received June 11, 2007 Revision received September 27, 2008 Accepted November 24, 2008