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Scholars Day: April 7, 2010

The Role of Perceived Contagion in Behavior Toward Sexual Minorities

Past research has demonstrated that contagion—or the sense that others may assume one is gay or lesbian by association—importantly shapes attitudes toward sexual minorities (Buck, Plant, & Doerr, 2009). The current study aims to extend this work by examining how perceptions of contagion influence actual interactions with sexual minorities. To examine this question, we conducted an experiment that manipulated whether participants felt publically (high contagion) or privately (low contagion) associated with Brockport’s gay straight alliance (S.O.U.L.), as well as whether they felt publically (control) or privately (control) associated with Brockport’s Finance club. Following the manipulation, participants interacted with the vice president of S.O.U.L. Measures were taken regarding the avoidance and approach behaviors of the participant toward the representative. Participants were then provided an opportunity to privately express their reaction to the interaction. The findings and implications for improving interactions between heterosexuals and sexual minorities will be discussed.

Presenter: Patrick Boerner (Undergraduate Student)
Topic: Psychology
Location: 123 Hartwell
Time: 9:20 am (Session I)