Researchers from Italy have found that people who have strong homophobic attitudes might be linked to a personality trait called psychoticism which manifests itself in aggressive behaviour and hatred towards others.
Italian researchers decided to look at the psychopathology of those who display homophobic traits. They conducted a study in which 551 university students from Italy, between the ages of 18 and 30, were selected at random to fill out questionnaires regarding their psychopathology, their view on homophobia as well as their levels of anxiety, psychoticism and depression.
The students were asked to answer questions regarding their approach on relationships with other people. The purpose of this step was to figure out the type of attachment style they had. According to experts there are two types of attachments: a secure attachment is when people trust other people and it is easy for them to develop close relationships with others and an insecure attachment is that in which people have the tendency to become too clingy, but at the same time have issues with trusting their partners.
Another part of the questionnaire required the participants to choose, on a scale from one to five, how much they agreed or disagreed with a number of 25 statements on homophobia.
The final step was for students to answer questions related to their coping strategies when put in an scary or uncomfortable situation. In this case, much like in the one regarding attachment styles, experts say that the defence mechanisms can be mature, or immature. People who tend to use mature defence mechanisms are more likely to be in control of their emotions and they do not look for other people’s approval. Those who resort to immature or unhealthy defence mechanisms are more likely to be very impulsive, violent, or passive aggressive.
The results of the study showed that a person who is mentally stable is less likely to be homophobic. Researchers found that those who felt secure in relationships tended to be significantly less homophobic than those who had trust issues and avoided intimacy with others. At the same time people who presented mature defence mechanisms were less homophobic than those with immature defence mechanisms.
Mental health issues such as high levels of depression and anxiety were actually linked to lower levels of homophobia.
Researcher Jannini concluded that although this study shows that homophobia is found more often in people who have dysfunctional personalities, homophobia is more than that. It is in fact a culturally related problem, as Jannini states, which also has to do with culture specific things such as strict religious values as well as misogyny and hyper masculinity.
Image Source: i.huffpost