Volume 5

The Effects of Gender and Sexual Orientation on the Acceptability of Public Displays of Affection

Tanya T. Cairns and Michelle M. Champagne

The present study was designed to examine attitudes toward public displays of affection based on the sexual orientation of the couples presented. Participants included 143 volunteers, over 50% were dating or married, 51% were men, and all were heterosexual. Participants were randomly assigned to reading one of three scenarios depicting a heterosexual, gay male, or lesbian couple engaging in an act of affection in a busy café. Results showed that participants who had more liberal attitudes toward sexual expression and those who engaged in public displays of affection themselves were more accepting of the public display of affection presented in the scenario. In addition, participants who had few or no gay contacts were more homophobic than those who had three or more contacts. Also, men were found to be more homophobic and had a more negative attitude towards same sex touching than women.

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