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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Why do homosexuals have more social problems?

"Those who want the Government to regulate matters of the mind and spirit are like men who are so afraid of being murdered that they commit suicide to avoid assassination" - Harry S Truman

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Actual and Anticipated Societal Reaction to Homosexuality and Adjustment in Two Societies
Michael W. Ross
The Journal of Sex Research
Vol. 21, No. 1 (Feb., 1985), pp. 40-55

"The relationship between actual societal reaction (SR) and putative societal reaction (PSR) to homosexuality was investigated in two cultures, Sweden and Australia, which were similar with regard to socioeconomic factors but dissimilar with regard to attitudes toward homosexuality. It was predicted that there would be no correlation between SR and PSR, that there would be differences between the two countries on PSR but not SR, and that these dimensions of societal reaction would be confirmed by factor analysis. One hundred seventy-six Swedish and 163 Australian homosexual males were administered scales measuring the actual or expected reaction to individuals or classes of individuals. They also responded to questionnaire items measuring acceptance of their homosexuality. Results indicated that there was a different direction of relationship between SR and PSR for each country and that there were significant differences between the two cultures on PSR but not SR, indicating that PSR is probably the critical variable measuring differences in adjustment as a result of societal pressures. PSR was also related to several factors measuring psychological adjustment. The findings have implications with regard to mechanisms underlying societal reaction in homosexual men and their influence on psychological adjustment and the factorial basis of societal reaction and its measurement...

Weinberg and Williams (1974) assumed that the level of antihomosexual reaction in society would relate to psychological maladjustment in homosexual persons. However, they found no relationship between societal reaction to homosexuality and homosexuals' own adjustment to their sexual orientation...

The central theoretical debate, cogently reviewed by Plummer (1981), centers around the argument of Sagarin and Kelly (1975) that pathology (in homosexuals) cannot be denied and at the same time accounted for in terms of social hostility. It is contradictory to suggest that negative consequences arise from labeling and, at the same time, that deviants are normal in terms of psychological functioning: Homosexual individuals cannot at the same time be normal psychologically and psychologically maladjusted as a result of social stigmatization of their sexual orientation...

This apparent contradiction may be resolved by suggesting that the critical variable mediating adjustment is not societal reaction. An equally plausible equation, utilizing the intervening variable of the individual's perception of societal reaction... Thus those homosexuals expecting a negative societal reaction will demonstrate some maladjustment, and those not expecting such a reaction will not. This model explains how societal reaction may be translated to problems of adjustment, and also why not all homosexual persons have such problems...

Swedish laws against such behavior were repealed in 1944, and equal rights have been guaranteed to homosexuals in all areas, including acceptance as officers in the military and police forces. Although there are considerable differences between states in Australia in this regard, both the states from which the sample was taken, Queensland and Victoria, had maximum penalties against homosexual behavior ranging from 5 (Victoria) to 12 (Queensland) years in prison at the time of sampling (1978). Societal attitudes are similarly negative, probably more so in Queensland, where sex roles also appear more rigid than in Victoria. It was necessary to select societies which differed in official reaction to homosexuality to demonstrate the independence of SR and PSR and to retest the hypothesis of Weinberg and Williams (1974) in as similar a setting as possible.

Sweden and Australia were selected for other more general reasons of matching. Both are western societies which are technologically advanced, have a highly similar standard of living, and are of roughly equivalent population size (9 million vs. 13 million). In terms of sociopolitical comparability, Banks and Gregg (1965) calculated their similarity, expressed as a correlation across the most important political factor they extracted, as 0.918 (Sweden) and 0.917 (Australia), in terms of correlation of factor loadings across factors on a questionnaire of sociopolitical attitudes. Sidanius, Ekehammar, and Ross (1979) found the attitudinal similarity between the two countries to be as high as 0.972. Thus, it can be suggested that the two societies were fairly well matched attitudinally and sociopolitically, apart from differences between attitudes toward homosexuality and to sex-role differentiation...

In the Swedish sample (Table 4), SR and PSR are positively correlated and significantly related, but in the Australian sample, a significant negative correlation occurs. This suggests that the realitytesting of the Swedes is better and based more on experience than that of the Australians. The negative correlation of the Australians implies that either there is little realistic basis to their reality testing with regard to anticipated reaction to their sexual orientation, or that, as J. Harry (personal communication, 1979) has suggested, they "come out" only to the more accepting individuals.

The second hypothesis suggests that SR and PSR will differ in Sweden and Australia. Data in Table 4 support this hypothesis and statistically demonstrate this by revealing significant differences in PSR between Sweden and Australia, but not SR. This appears to support further the contention of Ross (1977, 1978) that the two variables are not directly comparable, and that, contrary to the methodology of Weinberg and Williams (1974), there is unlikely to be any difference between totally different countries when homosexuals are asked to assess societal reaction, simply because they have no other countries with which to make comparisons."


This shows us that it is important to compare the plight of one group with another. Sure, it is possible for two groups to both have problems and there shouldn't be an "Oppression Olympics" about who is more oppressed. Yet without a comparative study and approach one will not know much about one side's condition and will have a misshapen perspective, which obviously has practical consequences. To channel JS Mill in a different context, "He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that".

The research also coheres with what previous posts have laid out.

This probably can be extended to other areas where discrimination supposedly leads to poor group performances (and can possibly be linked to stereotype threat - if you think of yourself as part of a certain group and you believe that group is oppressed, you will screw up).

In other words, going on about oppression is a self-fulfilling prophecy and activists are actually shooting themselves (or rather the constituencies they profess to support) in the foot.
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