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NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) - Do homophobic people actually fear their own unconscious feelings? A new study suggests that people who repress their own sexual attraction to the same sex are more likely to express hostility towards gays.
“In many cases these are people who are at war with themselves and they are turning this internal conflict outward,” study co-author Dr. Richard Ryan, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, said in a university written statement.
In four separate experiments conducted in the U.S. and in Germany, each involving an average of 160 college students, researchers attempted to measure any differences between what people say about their sexual orientation and how they actually react. Their findings are published in the April issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
All together, the study showed that participants with parents accepting of homosexuality were more open and aware of their implicit sexual orientation, while those with authoritative parents were more likely to deny their implicit sexual orientation. The researchers found participants who said they were heterosexual but revealed different reactions on their implicit tests were more likely to act with hostility toward gay people.
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