Scholarly article on topic 'Social Dominance Orientation, Cross-group Friendship and Prejudice towards Homosexuals'

Social Dominance Orientation, Cross-group Friendship and Prejudice towards Homosexuals Academic research paper on "Sociology"

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Abstract of research paper on Sociology, author of scientific article — Orazio Licciardello, Claudia Castiglione, Alberto Rampullo, Valentina Scolla

Abstract In our research we explored attitudes toward homosexuals in relation to social dominance orientation, cross-group friendship and gender. The sample, composed of high school students of two Sicilian towns, displayed slightly egalitarian and positive attitudes toward homosexuals. In particular, women have shown significantly lower levels of prejudice and apprehension in term of contact with regard to homosexuals than have men. Cross-group friendship with homosexuals had a positive impact on sexual prejudice, apprehension of contact with homosexuals and social dominance orientation. Finally, social dominance was positively correlated with negative attitudes toward homosexuals.

Academic research paper on topic "Social Dominance Orientation, Cross-group Friendship and Prejudice towards Homosexuals"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 116 (2014) 4988 - 4992

5th World Conference on Educational Sciences - WCES 2013

Social dominance orientation, cross-group friendship and prejudice

towards homosexuals.

Orazio Licciardello a, Claudia Castiglione b *, Alberto Rampullo a and Valentina Scolla a

aUniversity of Catania, Department of Educational Sciences, Via Biblioteca n.4 - Palazzo Ingrassia, Catania 95124, Italy. bUniversity of Messina, Palacultura Bartolo Cattafi, Via S. Andrea, 239, Barcellona P.G. Messina 98051, Italy

Abstract

In our research we explored attitudes toward homosexuals in relation to social dominance orientation, cross-group friendship and gender. The sample, composed of high school students of two Sicilian towns, displayed slightly egalitarian and positive attitudes toward homosexuals. In particular, women have shown significantly lower levels of prejudice and apprehension in term of contact with regard to homosexuals than have men. Cross-group friendship with homosexuals had a positive impact on sexual prejudice, apprehension of contact with homosexuals and social dominance orientation. Finally, social dominance was positively correlated with negative attitudes toward homosexuals. © 2013TheAuthors. Published by ElsevierLtd.

Selection and/or peer-reviewunderresponsibilityof AcademicWorld EducationandResearch Center. Keywords: Adolescence - social representation - peer relation - groups - homosexuality;

1. Introduction

Sidanius and Pratto (1993 a) developed social dominance theory, which postulates that societies create consensus in terms of ideologies to promote the superiority of one group over others and to minimize group conflict. These authors (Sidanius, & Pratto, 1999) defined social dominance as "The degree to which individuals desire and support group-based hierarchy and the domination of'inferior' groups by 'superior' groups" (p. 742).

A lot of studies have indicated that people who have a high social dominance orientation show negative attitudes toward different groups such as ethnic minorities (McFarland & Adelson, 1996; Altemeyer, 1998; Duriez & Van Hiel, 2002; Hodson, 2008; Kteily, Sidanius & Levin, 2011; Havermans, 2011). A similar positive correlation emerged between social dominance and prejudice toward homosexuals (Pratto, Sidanius, Stallworth & Malle, 1994; Whitley, 1999; Poteat, Espelage & Green, 2007).

Social context, peer group (Poteat, Espelage & Green, 2007) and contact with outgroup members (Dhont & Van Hiel, 2009; Dhont, Roets & Van Hiel, 2011; Hodson, 2011; Schmid, Hewstone, Küpper, Zick & Wagner, 2012) seem to have an effect on the relationship between social dominance orientation and the representation of an outgroup.

The contact hypothesis, proposed by Allport (1954), offers a strategy that can reduce intergroup conflict and negative attitudes towards outgroup members. He suggested specific conditions to make it efficacious: equality of

* Corresponding Author: Castiglione Claudia. Tel.: +39-3333908110 E-mail address: ccastiglione@unime.it

1877-0428 © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of Academic World Education and Research Center. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.01.1060

status between ingroup and outgroup members; cooperative interdependence and common goals; supportive social norms; sustained interaction between ingroup and outgroup members.

Pettigrew (1998) added another important condition to Allport's contact hypothesis. Ingroup and outgroup members need to build friendship bonds. Cross-group friendship reduces prejudice across the potential of friendship (Dovidio, Gaertner & Kawakami, 2003). In different studies, it is possible to see the efficacy of Allport's hypothesis and cross-group friendships as a means of reducing prejudice, as in Pettigrew's (2009) meta-analysis, in which the satisfaction of contact conditions improves the positive effects of intergroup contact. This meta-analysis shows that Allport's conditions are not always indispensable when it comes to reducing prejudice, but are useful in terms of facilitating intergroup contact. Furthermore, the results underline that 94% of the sample shows an inverse relationship between intergroup contact and prejudice, in line with Allport's conditions in which only 19% were involved.

The same positive effect emerged regarding prejudice toward homosexuals (Kite & Whitley, 1998; Herek, 2000; Anderssen, 2002; Barron, Struckman-Johnson, Quevillon & Banka, 2008; Goodman & Moradi, 2008; Binder et al., 2009, Smith, Axelton & Saucier, 2009). Heterosexuals who know homosexuals have a more positive attitude towards them, particularly if such contact is intimate and durable (Herek & Capitanio, 1996).

Heinze and Horn (2009), in research into adolescents' attitudes toward homosexuals, investigated the relationship between intergroup contact and their behaviour with regard to homosexuals. The results showed that intergroup contact isn't sufficient to reduce prejudice toward homosexuals among peers when contact is casual. Instead, if adolescents have actual friendship bonds with gay or lesbian peers, they show less prejudice toward homosexuality.

Moreover, another important variable is gender. Males have higher prejudice levels towards homosexuals (Kite & Whitley, 1996; La Mar & Kite, 1998; Herek, 2000; Barron, Struckman-Johnson, Quevillon & Banka, 2008; Goodman & Moradi, 2008) and higher social dominance orientation than females (Brown, 1991).

2. Hypothesis

This study explored attitudes toward homosexuals in relation to gender, cross group-friendship and social dominance orientation. We hypothesised that: 1) students with an egalitarian attitude display lower prejudice levels and apprehension of contact with regard to homosexuals; 2) the friendship bonds with homosexuals negatively affect social dominance orientation and prejudice towards homosexuals; 3) women show a more egalitarian attitude and less prejudice with regard to homosexuals.

3. Method

3.1. Participants

The sample consisted of 198 high school students, of which 93 are males and 105 are females from two Sicilian towns, with an average age of 18.18 years (SD .71).

The original sample was composed of 206 students. In the preliminary round of data processing, we removed students who have defined their sexual orientation as homosexual or prevalent homosexual (N=8). The religious affiliations provided by each participant were divided as follows: Catholic (87.9%), Atheist (10.6%), Protestant (0.5%), Evangelist (0.5%) and others (0.5%).

3.2. Measures

Attitude Toward Lesbians and Gay Men, Revised Version by Herek (1998) was used. It consisted of 20 items which measure prejudice levels toward homosexuals (ATLG, a=.92).

The Components of Attitudes towards Homosexuality by LaMar and Kite (1998) offered the possibility to analyse different features of attitudes towards homosexuality: Condemnation; Contact Apprehension; Stereotypes;

Morality. In this study, we used only the Contact Apprehension Toward Homosexuals subscale which was composed of 18 items (CATH, a=.85 ).

The Social Dominance Orientation Scale by Pratto, Sidanius, Stallworth and Malle (1994) was the scale used in order to assess the social dominance orientation of the students. It consists of 16 items (SDO a =.82) with regard to which higher scores show a social dominance orientation, lower scores show an egalitarian attitude. For each item, the students' responses were rated on a 7-point Likert scale ranging from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (7).

Cross-group friendship. Four questions were asked to assess the degree of contact with outgroup members: "How many gay men do you know?" "How many lesbians do you know?" "How many gay men friends do you have?" "How many lesbian friends do you have?".

The Measurement of Self-reported Sexual Orientation by Kinsey, Pomeroy and Martin (1949) was also used. One question was asked to measure the self-reported sexual orientation of the students.

Background questions were used to obtain information about age, educational level, place of residence and religion.

3.3. Preliminary data processing

In analyzing the data we have created one variable, (contact with homosexuals) divided into three groups in terms of the level of contact with homosexuals: Friends, Acquaintances, or No-one.

The checking for statistically significant differences was carried out using the following tests: one-way ANOVA in order to verify the incidence of the independent variable; one-sample t-test in order to compare sample means with mid-point value; correlation matrix among variables in order to evaluate the degree of interdependence among levels of ATLG, CATH and SDO; Cronbach's alpha to check the reliability of the assessment inventory scales.

The data analysis was performed using SPSS v.20 for Windows.

4. Results

4.1. Social dominance and attitudes toward homosexuals.

The sample displayed slightly positive attitudes toward homosexuals (ATLG, M=3.50 SD=1.16) One sample t-test p<.001 and a slightly egalitarian attitude (SDO M=3.58 SD=1.04), One sample t-test, p<.001. Contact apprehension toward homosexuals was superimposable to the mid-point value (CATH M=3.91 SD=.95), One sample t-test, p<.16.

The gender variable had a significant main impact on sexual prejudice toward homosexuals and apprehension with regard to contact. In particular, women compared to men, displayed significantly lower levels of prejudice toward homosexuals (ATLG, women: M=3.19 SD=1.03 vs. men: M=3.85 SD=1.21) t=-4.17 p<.001, and lower apprehension of contact towards homosexuals (CATH, women: M=3.67 SD=.98 vs. men: M=4.17 SD=.84) t=-3.82 p<.001.

We found significant correlations between social dominance and attitudes toward homosexuals. Prejudice and contact apprehension with regard to homosexuals displayed a strong positive correlation (r=.80, p.<01). A positive correlation emerged between social dominance orientation and prejudice towards homosexuals (r=.25, p<.01), similar positive correlation emerged between social dominance orientation and contact apprehension with regard to homosexuals (r=.27, p<.01).

4.2. Cross-group friendship effects on social dominance, sexual prejudice and apprehension of contact with

homosexuals

Variable contact with homosexuals had a significant impact on prejudice levels, apprehension of contact with regard to homosexuals and social dominance orientation.

In particular, those who claimed to have at least one homosexual friend displayed significantly lower levels of prejudice towards homosexuals (ATLG: M=3.28 SD=1.08) compared to those who claimed to have only acquaintance relationships with homosexuals (ATLG: M=3.58 SD=1.18) and those who claimed to have no acquaintance or friendship relationships with gay individuals (ATLG: M=3.82 SD=1.21), F=3.59, p<.05.

Furthermore, individuals who claimed to have at least one gay friend displayed significantly lower apprehension with regard to contact with homosexuals (CATH: M=3.73 SD=.95) compared to those who claimed to have acquaintance relationship with gays (CATH: M=4.01 SD=.94) and those who claimed to have no acquaintance or friendship relationships with gays (CATH: M=4.11 SD=.92), F=3.15, p<.05.

Related to social dominance orientation, those who claimed to have at least one gay friend displayed significantly lower levels of social dominance (SDO: M=3.31 SD=.99) compared to those who claimed to have only acquaintance relationship with homosexuals (SDO: M=3.79 SD=1.04) and those who claimed to have no acquaintance or friendship relationships with gays (SDO: M=3.8 SD=1.04), F=5.52, p=.05.

5. Discussion and conclusion

The results confirmed the first and the second hypotheses respectively, in terms of cross-group friendship and social dominance orientation effects on attitude toward outgroup members.

In line with the literature (Pratto, Sidanius, Stallworth & Malle, 1994) we found significant correlations between social dominance and attitudes toward homosexuals and contact apprehension.

Cross-group friendship, in line with the literature (Pettigrew & Tropp, 2006) negatively affects social dominance orientation and prejudice toward homosexuals. In fact, students who claimed to have at least one gay friend displayed significantly lower social dominance orientation, prejudice and apprehension of contact with homosexuals.

The third hypothesis is partially confirmed. The gender variable had a significant main impact only on sexual prejudice toward homosexuals and contact apprehension. Women showed less negative attitudes toward homosexuals (La Mar & Kite, 1998; Herek, 2000). However, they didn't display a more egalitarian attitude. This contrasts with what has emerged in the literature (Sidanius, Pratto & Bobo, 1994; Sidanius, Pratto & Rabinowitz, 1994).

In conclusion, it emerged that there is a need to deepen our understanding, in future research, of the impact of social contest, peer relations and groups of belonging, to attitudes toward homosexuals and social dominance orientation.

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