Assessing Attitudes Toward Lesbians and Gay Men: The Modern Homophobia Scale

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Abstract

The authors developed the Modern Homophobia Scale (MHS), a scale that includes measures of attitudes toward lesbians (MHS-L) and attitudes toward gay men (MHS-G). An initial pool of 97 items was generated by the authors based on a review of the literature on homophobia and feedback from several focus groups. Responses to the initial pool of items were factor analyzed. The final versions of the MHS-L and the MHS-G included items reflecting the following factors: Personal Discomfort with lesbians/gay men, Institutional Homophobia toward lesbians/gay men, and the Deviance/Changeability of female/male homosexuality. Although the Personal Discomfort, Institutional, and Deviance/Changeability factors were separable, they were highly correlated and showed little evidence of divergent validity. Reactions to gay, lesbian, and heterosexual characters in written vignettes provided initial support for the validity of the MHS. Both the MHS-L and MHS-G were significantly correlated with the Index of Homophobia and the Attitudes Toward Women Scale. A greater degree of homophobia on the MHS-L and MHS-G was associated with a greater degree of socially desirable responding as measured by the Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding. Lower levels of homophobia on the MHS-L and MHS-G were associated with having lesbian and gay acquaintances and friends. On the MHS-L, men and women did not differ in their overall level of homophobia toward lesbians, but significant gender differences on MHS-L factor scores were present. Compared to men, women were more supportive of gay men on all three factors of the MHS-G.

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