First Advisor

Laurie Skokan

Term of Graduation

Summer 1992

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology






Gay rights, Gays -- Public opinion, Political psychology



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, 73 pages)


This study explored the relationship between voters' political behavior regarding the issue of gay rights and the underlying psychological needs served by their attitudes on this issue. A telephone survey of 100 randomly selected local voters was conducted, during which Herek's (1987) Attitude Functions Inventory (AFI) was administered. Three of the four attitude function subscales (Experiential- Schematic, Social-Expressive and Ego-Defensive) were confirmed using a LISREL confirmatory factor analysis. The Value-Expressive subscale was not confirmed and showed poor reliability. Pro- and anti-gay rights behavior was measured using a Political Behavior Index (PBI) developed for this study. Regression analyses and MANOVAs were employed to test six hypotheses, all of which received some support. Pro-gay rights behavior was associated with ExperientialSchematic attitudes and a Value-Expressive item regarding civil liberties. Anti-gay rights behavior was associated with Ego-Defensive attitudes and a Value-Expressive item regarding moral beliefs. Men scored higher on the EgoDefensive function than did women. Those who knew more gay people were more likely to exhibit Experiential-Schematic attitudes and were less likely to hold Ego-Defensive attitudes. These findings imply that efforts to change anti-gay rights behavior need to address the underlying motivations of Ego-Defense and Value-Expression regarding the construct of moral beliefs. An additional implication is a potential for increasing support for the legal rights of gay people by increasing association with people one knows to be gay.


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