The impact of social roles on stereotypes of gay men

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Past research demonstrates that heterosexuals perceive gay men to have traditionally feminine characteristics. Guided by Social Role Theory (Eagly, 1987), we predicted that this stereotype would differ depending on a gay man's specific social role. To test this idea, participants rated five gay targets (father, single man, hairdresser, truck driver, typical gay man) on stereotypically masculine (e.g., ambitious, leader) and feminine (e.g., affectionate, sensitive) personality attributes. Gay men in traditionally masculine roles (truck driver, single man) were rated as less feminine than gay men in traditionally feminine roles (hairdresser, parent). In addition, gay men in feminine roles were perceived as more similar to the typical gay man than were those in masculine roles. Suggestions for future research are discussed.


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