Positive Representation of Gay Characters in Movies for Reducing Homophobia

Original Paper

Abstract

This study addresses the effect of narratives offering a positive depiction of gay men on the audience’s change in attitude towards homosexuality. Specifically, it analyzes the relationship of character identification, inter-group contact, religiosity and gender with homophobia reduction. One hundred and fifty students of a Serbian University (M Age  = 22.13, SD = 2.28) filled in a questionnaire measuring socio-demographic information and the instrument H25 assessing homophobia. Two months later, they watched a movie depicting gay men in a positive manner and completed a questionnaire containing the homophobia scale and questions related to identification with the main character, inter-group contact and religiosity. The results showed that watching the movie is related to a reduction of homophobia and that character identification and inter-group contact are negatively correlated with homophobia, whereas religiosity is positively correlated with it. Results also show that there is a negative correlation between religiosity and the attitude change induced by the movie, and that men express higher level of homophobia than women. The study contributes to the knowledge of the mechanisms reducing homophobia through media.

Keywords

Homophobia Undergraduates Attitude change Identification Inter-group contact Religiosity Gender 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona research committee, which in turn follows the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

References

  1. Adamczyk, A., & Pitt, C. (2009). Shaping attitudes about homosexuality: The role of religion and cultural context. Social Science Research, 38(2), 338–351.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2009.01.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alfeo Álvarez, J. C. (1997). La imagen del personaje homosexual masculino como protagonista en la cinematografía española. PhD dissertation. Madrid: Universidad Complutense.Google Scholar
  3. Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  4. Allport, G. W., & Ross, M. J. (1967). Personal religious orientation and prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 5, 432–443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Altemeyer, B. (1988). Enemies of freedom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.Google Scholar
  6. Aosved, A., & Long, P. (2006). Co-occurrence of rape myth acceptance, sexism, racism, homophobia, ageism, classicism, and religious intolerance. Sex Roles, 55, 12–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Batson, C. D., & Burris, C. T. (1994). Personal religion: Depressant or stimulant of prejudice and discrimination? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 20, 603–610.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bierly, M. M. (1985). Prejudice toward contemporary outgroups as a generalized attitude. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 5, 189–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bonds-Raacke, J. M., Cady, E. T., Schlegel, R., Harris, R. J., & Firebauch, L. (2007). Remembering gay/lesbian media characters. Journal of Homosexuality, 53(3), 19–34.  https://doi.org/10.1300/J082v53n03_03.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brown, T. A. (2006). Confirmatory factor analysis for applied research. New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  11. Busselle, R., & Bilandzic, H. (2009). Measuring narrative engagement. Media Psychology, 12(4), 321–347.  https://doi.org/10.1080/15213260903287259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Butler, J. (1993). Bodies that matter: On the discursive limits of sex. New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Byrne, B. M. (2010). Structural equation modeling with AMOS (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. Carvalho, A. (2016). Influencia de la moralidad en la apreciación, percepción de realismo y disfrute de las narrativas sobre lesbianas. Ph.D. dissertation. Bellaterra: Universitat Autonòma de Barcelona.Google Scholar
  15. Cohen, J. (2001). Defining identification: a theoretical look at the identification of audiences with media characters. Mass Communication and Society, 4, 245–264.  https://doi.org/10.1207/S15327825MCS0403_01.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cohen, J. (2006). Audience identification: A theoretical look at the identification of audiences with characters. In J. Bryant & P. Vorderer (Eds.), Psychology of entertainment (pp. 183–197). Mahwah: Lawrence Eribaum.Google Scholar
  17. de Lauretis, T. (1991). Queer theory: Lesbian and gay sexualities. Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, 3, iii–xviii.Google Scholar
  18. Detenber, B. H., Ho, S. S., Neo, R. L., Malik, S., & Cenite, M. (2013). Influence of value predispositions, interpersonal contact, and mediated exposure on public attitudes towards homosexuality in Singapore. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 16, 181–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dixon, H. G., Hill, D. J., Borland, R., & Paxton, S. J. (2001). Public reaction to the portrayal of the tobacco industry in the film The Insider. Tobacco Control, 10(3), 285–291.  https://doi.org/10.1136/tc.10.3.285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Duggan, L. (2003). The twilight of equality: Neoliberalism, cultural politics, and the attack on the democracy. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  21. Eyal, K., & Rubin, A. M. (2003). Viewer aggression and homophily, identification, and para-social relationships with television characters. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 47, 77–98.  https://doi.org/10.1207/s15506878jobem4701_5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Farr, D., & Degroult, N. (2008). Understand the queer world of the Lesbian body: Using queer as a folk and the L word to address the construction of the lesbian body. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 12, 423–434.  https://doi.org/10.1080/10894160802278580.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gónzalez de Garay, B. (2009). Ficción online frente a ficción televisiva en la nueva sociedad digital: diferencias de representación del lesbianismo entre las series españolas para televisión. ICONO 14. Retrieved from http://eprints.sim.ucm.es/9856/.
  24. Gónzalez de Garay, B. (2013). El lesbianismo en las series de ficción televisivas españolas. Ph.D. dissertation. Madrid: Universidad Complutense. Retrieved from http://eprints.ucm.es/19949/1/T34293.pdf.
  25. Green, M. C. (2006). Narratives and cancer communication. Journal of Communication, 56, 163–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Green, M. C., & Brock, T. C. (2000). The role of transportation in the persuasiveness of public narratives. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 701–721.  https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-3514.79.5.701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gross, L. (2001). Up from invisibility. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Hambleton, R. K. (1996). Adaptación de tests para su uso en diferentes idiomas y culturas: fuentes de error, posibles soluciones y directrices prácticas. In J. Muñiz (Ed.), Psicometría (pp. 207–238). Madrid: Universitas.Google Scholar
  29. Harrington, C. (2003). Homosexuality on all my children: Transforming the daytime landscape. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 47(2), 216–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Herek, G. M. (2007). Confronting sexual stigma and prejudice: Theory and practice. Journal of Social Issues, 63, 905–925.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.2007.00544.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Herek, G. M., & Capitanio, J. P. (1995). Black heterosexuals’ attitudes toward lesbians and gay men in the United States. The Journal of Sex Research, 32, 95–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Herek, G. M., Cogan, J. C., Gillis, J. R., & Glunt, E. K. (1997). Correlates of internalized homophobia in a community sample of lesbians and gay men. Journal of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, 2, 17–25.Google Scholar
  33. Herek, G. M., & Glunt, E. K. (1993). Interpersonal contact and heterosexuals’ attitudes toward gay men: Results from a national survey. Journal of Sex Research, 30, 239–244.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499309551707.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hicks, G. R., & Lee, T. (2006). Public attitudes towards gays and lesbians: Trends and predictors. Journal of Homosexuality, 51(2), 57–77.  https://doi.org/10.1300/J082v51n02_04.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hodson, G. (2008). Interracial prison contact: The pros for (socially dominant) cons. British Journal of Social Psychology, 47, 325–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hoffner, C., & Buchanan, M. (2005). Young adults’ wishful identification with television characters: The role of perceived similarity and character attributes. Media Psychology, 7, 325–351.  https://doi.org/10.1207/S1532785XMEP0704_2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hunsberger, B., & Jackson, L. M. (2005). Religion, meaning, and prejudice. Journal of Social Issues, 61, 807–826.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.2005.00433.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Ibiti, A. (2011). Identificación y disfrute de mujeres homosexuales en la recepción de personajes de lesbianas (una aproximación cualitativa). Master thesis. Bellaterra: UniversitatAutònoma de Barcelona.Google Scholar
  39. Ibiti, A. (2015). Influencia de la moralidad en la apreciación, percepción de realismo y disfrute de las narrativas sobre lesbianas. Ph.D. dissertation. Bellaterra: Universitat Autonòma de Barcelona.Google Scholar
  40. Igartua, J. J. (2010). Identification with characters and narrative persuasion through fictional feature films. Communications. The European Journal of Communication Research, 4, 347–373.  https://doi.org/10.1515/comm.2010.019.Google Scholar
  41. Igartua, J. J., & Barrios, I. M. (2012). Changing real-world beliefs with controversial movies: Processes and mechanisms of narrative persuasion. Journal of Communication, 62(3), 514–531.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2012.01640.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Igartua, J. J., & Frutos, J. F. (2017). Enhancing attitudes toward stigmatized groups with movies: Mediating and moderating processes of narrative persuasion. International Journal of Communication, 11, 158–177.Google Scholar
  43. Igartua, J. J., & Muñiz, C. (2008). Identificación con los personajes y disfrute ante largometrajes de ficción. Una investigación empírica. Comunicación y Sociedad, 1, 25–52.Google Scholar
  44. Igartua, J. J., & Páez, D. (1998). Validez y fiabilidad de una escala de empatía e identificación con los personajes. Psicothema, 10(2), 423–436.Google Scholar
  45. Jöreskog, K. G., & Sörbom, D. (1984). Lisrel VI. Analysis of linear structural relationships by maximum likelihood, instrumental variables, and least squares methods. Mooresville: Scientific Software.Google Scholar
  46. Joyce, N. (2017). Intergroup contact theory. The International Encyclopedia of Intercultural Communication.  https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118783665.ieicc0164.Google Scholar
  47. Kite, M. E. (1984). Sex differences in attitudes toward homosexuals: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Homosexuality, 10, 69–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Kite, M. E., & Deaux, K. (1987). Gender belief systems: Homosexuality and the implicit inversion theory. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 11, 83–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Kite, M. E., & Whitley, B. E., Jr. (1996). Sex differences in attitudes toward homosexual persons, behaviors and civil rights: A meta-analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22(4), 336–353.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167296224002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Koenig, H. G., & Büssing, A. (2010). The Duke University Religion Index (DUREL): A five-item measure for use in epidemiological studies. Religions, 1(1), 78–85.  https://doi.org/10.3390/rel1010078.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Kurdek, L. A. (1988). Correlates of negative attitudes toward homosexuals in heterosexual college students. Sex Roles, 18, 727–738.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. LaMar, L., & Kite, M. (1998). Sex differences in attitudes toward gay men and lesbians: a multidimensional perspective. The Journal of Sex Research, 35(2), 189–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Lee, T. T., & Hicks, G. R. (2011). An analysis of factors affecting attitudes toward same-sex marriage: Does the media matter? Journal of Homosexuality, 57, 1370–1383.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00918369.2011.614906.Google Scholar
  54. Llamas, R. (1997). El género y la representación social: Cuatro reflexiones en torno al poder y la construcción de sí. Archipiélago, 31, 108–114.Google Scholar
  55. Mazur, M. A., & Emmers-Sommer, T. M. (2002). The effect of film portrayals on audience attitudes about nontraditional families and sexual orientation. Journal of Homosexuality, 44(1), 157–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Morrison, M. A., & Morrison, T. G. (2002). Development and validation of a scale measuring modern prejudice toward gay men and lesbian women’. Journal of Homosexuality, 43(2), 15–37.  https://doi.org/10.1300/J082v43n02_02.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Moyer-Gusé, E. (2008). Toward a theory of entertainment persuasion: Explaining the persuasive effects of entertainment-education messages. Communication Theory, 18(3), 407–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Moyer-Gusé, E., Chung, A. H., & Jain, P. (2011). Identification with characters and discussion of taboo topics after exposure to an entertainment narrative about sexual health. Journal of Communication, 61, 387–406.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2011.01551.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Moyer-Gusé, E., & Nabi, R. L. (2010). Explaining the effects of narrative in an entertainment television program: overcoming resistance to persuasion. Human Communication Research, 36(1), 26–52.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2958.2009.01367.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Newman, B. S. (2007). College students’ attitudes about lesbians: What difference does 16 years make? Journal of Homosexuality, 52, 249–265.  https://doi.org/10.1300/J082v52n03_12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Pelayo, L. (2011). Imagen fílmica del lesbianismo a través de los personajes protagonistas en el cine español. Ph.D. dissertation. Madrid: Universidad Complutense.Google Scholar
  62. Pettigrew, T. F. (1997). Generalized intergroup contact effects on prejudice. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 173–185.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167297232006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Pettigrew, T. F. (1998). Intergroup contact theory. Annual Review of Psychology, 49, 65–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Pettigrew, T. F., & Tropp, L. R. (2006). A meta-analytic test of inter-group contact theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90, 751–783.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.90.5.751.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Pettigrew, T. F., & Tropp, L. R. (2011). When groups meet. The dynamics of inter-group contact. New York, NY: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  66. Raja, S., & Stokes, J. P. (1998). Assessing attitudes toward lesbians and gay men: The modern homophobia scale. Journal of Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Identity, 3(2), 113–134.  https://doi.org/10.1023/A:102324442.Google Scholar
  67. Rodríguez-Castro, Y., Lameiras-Fernández, M., Carrera-Fernández, V., & Vallejo-Medina, P. (2013). Validación de la escala de homofobia moderna en una muestra de adolescentes. Anales de Psicología, 29(2), 523–533.  https://doi.org/10.6018/analesps.29.2.137931.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Rössler, P., & Brosius, H.-B. (2001). Do talk shows cultivate adolescent’s views of the world? A prolongued-exposure experiment. Journal of Communication, 51(1), 143–163.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2001.tb02876.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Rot, N. (2009). Osnovisocijalnepsihologije III. Beograd: Zavodzaudžbenikeinastavnasredstva.Google Scholar
  70. Schiappa, E., Gregg, P. B., & Hewes, D. E. (2005). The parasocial contact hypothesis. Communication Monographs, 72, 92–115.  https://doi.org/10.1080/0363775052000342544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Schiappa, E., Gregg, P. B., & Hewes, D. E. (2006). Can one TV show make a difference? Will and Grace and the parasocial contact hypothesis. Journal of Homosexuality, 51(4), 15–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Siker, J. S. (2007). Homosexuality and religion: An encyclopedia. London: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  73. Slater, M. D., Rouner, D., & Long, M. (2006). Television dramas and support for controversial public policies: Effects and mechanisms. Journal of Communication, 56(2), 235–252.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2006.00017.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Soto-Sanfiel, M. T., Aymerich-Franch, L., & Ribes-Guàrdia, F. X. (2010). Impacto de la interactividad en la identificación con los personajes de ficción. Psicothema, 22(4), 822–827.Google Scholar
  75. Soto-Sanfiel, M. T., & Ibiti, A. (2016). Lesbian sex in mainstream cinema and audience enjoyment. Sexuality and Culture, 20(3), 555–578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Soto-Sanfiel, M. T., Ibiti, A., & Palencia Villa, R. M. (2014a). Identification with lesbian characters: Reception processes of heterosexuals and homosexual audiences from a mixed method approach. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, 69, 275–306.Google Scholar
  77. Soto-Sanfiel, M. T., Palencia, R. M., Carvalho, A., & Velázquez, L. F. (2011). Recepció de personatges lèsbics per audiencias de diferents orientacions sexuals manifestes. Research project. Barcelona: Institut Català de les Dones.Google Scholar
  78. Soto-Sanfiel, M. T., Palencia-Villa, R. M., & Ibiti, A. (2014a). The role of sexual orientation and gender in the appreciation of lesbian narratives. InMedia. The French Journal of Media and Media Representations in the English-Speaking World, 5.Google Scholar
  79. Steffens, M. C., & Wagner, C. (2004). Attitudes toward lesbians, gay men, bisexual women, and bisexual men in Germany. The Journal of Sex Research, 41, 137–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Steffensmeier, D., & Steffensmeier, R. (1974). Sex differences in reactions to homosexuals: Research continuities and further developments. The Journal of Sex Research, 10, 52–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Taylor, A. (1983). Conceptions of masculinity and femininity as a basis for stereotypes of male and female homosexuals. Journal of Homosexuality, 9, 37–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Turner, R. N., Hewstone, M., & Voci, A. (2007). Reducing explicit and implicit outgroup prejudice via direct and extended contact: The mediating role of self-disclosure and inter-group anxiety. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 369–388.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.93.3.369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Vonofakou, C., Hewstone, M., & Voci, A. (2007). Contact with out-group friends as a predictor of meta-attitudinal strength and accessibility of attitudes toward gay men. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 804–820.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.92.5.804.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Wagner, U., van Dick, R., Pettigrew, T. F., & Christ, O. (2003). Ethnic prejudice in East-and West-Germany: The explanatory power of inter-group contact. Group Processes and Inter-group Relations, 6, 23–37.Google Scholar
  85. Weinberg, G. (1973). Society and the healthy homosexual. New York, NY: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  86. Whitley, B., & Kite, M. E. (1995). Sex differences in attitudes toward homosexuality: A comment on Oliver and Hyde (1993). Psychological Bulletin, 117, 146–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Whitley, B., & Kite, M. (2010). The psychology of prejudice and discrimination. Belmont: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.Google Scholar
  88. Zivanovic, M., Đokic, T., Lazarevic, L. B., Orlic, A., & Bjekic, J. (2014). Konstrukcijaiempirijskaproveratestahomofobije. PrimenjenaPsihologija, 7(4), 581–598.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departament de Comunicació Audiovisual i PublicitatUniversitat Autonòma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

Personalised recommendations