According to new research, the word homophobia isn’t accurate, because homophobia isn’t really caused by fear or anxiety.
Psychologists from the University of Arkansas found that homophobia isn’t technically a phobia. Instead, the cause has more to do with social conditions and attitudes. So it’s closer to other forms of prejudice, like racism, than it is to a phobia like arachnophobia.
Le Point writes:
The 138 study participants were asked to complete a series of surveys, including: the Index of Attitudes Toward Homosexuals (IAH), which measures homophobia; the Sexual Attitude Scale, which explores what people think about human sexuality; the Disgust Emotion Scale, which measures a person’s response level in terms of disgust; and the Padua Inventory, which assesses contamination obsessions, reports HealthScout.
The participants also answered questions designed to measure levels of fear and anxiety.
According to the study, people who showed homophobic tendencies on the IAH also displayed conservative sexual attitudes, along with elevated levels of disgust and dread of contamination.
If homophobia comes from social conditions and attitudes, the authors conclude, then fixing it will require changing social conditioning at home and in schools.