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Why people oppose same-sex marriage

Marriage

More pearls of wisdom from the great Cyanide and happiness.

Marriage is legal (here in the US anyway), now I’m not gay, but that is exciting to me. So the question remains, has society fallen apart? Are cats hanging out with dogs and toast falling butter side up? Of course not, so then why do opponents of same-sex marriage really oppose it? A UCLA psychology study concludes that many people believe gay men and women are more sexually promiscuous than heterosexuals, which they may fear could threaten their own marriages and their way of life.

“Many people who oppose same-sex marriage are uncomfortable with casual sex and feel threatened by sexual promiscuity,” said David Pinsof, a UCLA graduate student of psychology and lead author of the study.

Such people often marry at a younger age, have more children and believe in traditional gender roles in which men are the breadwinners and women are housewives.

“Sexual promiscuity may be threatening to these people because it provides more temptations for spouses to cheat on one another,” Pinsof said.

“On the other hand, for people who are comfortable with women being more economically independent, marrying at a later age and having more sexual partners, sexual promiscuity is not as much of a threat because women do not depend on men for financial support.”

The researchers measured people’s attitudes, regardless of their accuracy.

People who feel their way of life is most threatened by sexual promiscuity tend to be socially conservative and strongly believe in traditional gender roles. Among them are women who prioritize family over career and who view their marital vows as sacred, said Martie Haselton, a UCLA professor of psychology and communication studies, and the study’s senior author.

The researchers surveyed 523 men and 562 women, 27 percent of whom oppose same-sex marriage. In one part of the study, subjects took a test designed to reveal whether and to what extent they associate images of gay couples with words and phrases like “promiscuous” or “one-night stand.” On sensitive topics, people often tell researchers what they think they should say, rather than what they really believe. This first test enabled researchers to avoid this problem because participants can’t easily control or fake the results, Haselton said.

Participants were shown a series of words associated with the adjective “promiscuous” — such as “casual sex” and “one-night stand” — as well as words associated with “monogamous” — such as “faithful” and “loving” — and images of either gay couples or heterosexual couples. They were instructed to match the words to either “promiscuous” or “monogamous,” while also categorizing the couples as gay or straight.

Participants were instructed to press a button whenever they saw a photo of a gay couple or a word associated with “promiscuous,” and then to do the same whenever they saw a gay couple or a word associated with “monogamous.” The researchers measured how quickly participants responded in each scenario.

“If you have a hard time disassociating ‘gay’ and ‘promiscuous,’ it will take you longer to respond when ‘gay’ and ‘monogamous’ are paired,” Haselton said.

The test showed that many people tend to strongly associate the concepts “gay” and “promiscuous.”

The researchers determined subjects’ level of “sexual conservatism” based on how much they agreed or disagreed with statements like “Sex without love is okay” and “I can easily imagine myself being comfortable and enjoying casual sex with different partners.” Those who agreed more strongly with those statements were likely to support same-sex marriage.

“What people are willing to say about links between sexual promiscuity and sexual orientation and their reaction times tell a very similar story,” Haselton said.

The challenge of the study was whether Pinsof’s statistical analysis could predict whether participants support or oppose same-sex marriage strongly, moderately or slightly, based on their response times and their answers to the series of statements.

On a seven point-scale from “strongly oppose” to “strongly support” same-sex marriage, he was able to account for 42.3 percent of the variation in people’s attitudes, and able to accurately predict their attitudes about same-sex marriage substantially better than chance.

“That is remarkable; in psychological research, explaining 42 percent is huge,” Haselton said.

“Opposition to same-sex marriage may be strategic by people who are seeking to protect their marriages and the marriages in their communities, and are fearful that changing the definition of marriage is threatening to their way of life,” Pinsof said.

“Because they view gay people as promiscuous, they view the idea of same-sex marriage as undermining the institution of marriage.”

Sources:
Pinsof, D., & Haselton, M.G (2016). The moral divide over same-sex marriage: reproductive strategies in conflict? Psychological Science

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8 responses

  1. I’m happy to read an explanation that has more psychology behind the analysis than mine did. I just thought people who opposed the change are traditionalists who dislike and resist ANY sort of change, the kind who get more “NIMBY” about law, taxes, art and culture as they age.

    February 26, 2016 at 11:29 am

    • I agree, there are probably a few of the traditionalists in there as well as people who just frankly don’t like people who have a same sex preference. It’s just a big mess all around, but hopefully we can all just get over it honestly.

      February 27, 2016 at 11:13 am

  2. So on this and a myriad of other topics, today’s research/findings/opinions will be countered (for better or worse) manana. And quite often, neither can be accurate or affirming. 😦

    February 26, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    • Yes, well if it is one thing we can learn from the whole of human existence, it is that we will always find a way to segregate ourselves, whether it is race, skin color, eye color, hair color, or in this case sexual preference.

      There is just something about the allure of being able to exclude people as a way to make ourselves feel more important that we cannot escape. Just wait until people start trying to exclude others because of their genetics, that one probably isn’t too far away.

      But then again, that may just be my lack of faith in humanity talking.

      February 27, 2016 at 11:21 am

  3. My opposition has nothing to do with ANY of this. I dearly love my gay brother-in-law and his lover. But marriage is built into our legal code in ways that intend to protect families/children. Gay marriage does not need these protections, and if they take advantage of them, it strains the financial system that supports them. For this reason, I oppose gay marriage, but favor civil union.

    February 28, 2016 at 5:12 am

    • That’s interesting, why do you think it would strain the financial system? Also why do you think they don’t need the same protections?

      February 28, 2016 at 11:51 am

  4. Steven

    1) I find it interesting that the majority of people associate being homosexual with being promiscuous. I only have a few gay friends but they all seem to be in healthy, stable relationships. It’s the straight ones that are cheating or sleeping around.

    2) I don’t see how people could think that the homosexual community could undermine the institution of marriage when the divorce rate of marriage is already so high. If anything was undermining the system it would be the people who are getting married too soon and are finding out too late they their partner is not loyal or the two are not compatible.

    People do not choose to be gay, straight, or bisexual. They are the way they are. If they want to get married and raise a family there is no reason we should stop them or call their union a different name. In the end it is two people who love each other making a vow to be with each other forever (supposedly) and possibly raising some children. The fact that it’s a man and a man, a woman and a woman, or something else it shouldn’t matter.

    February 28, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    • I agree, what two consenting adults do something that hurts no one, who am I to judge. More importantly why should it matter to me, it’s not like someone is dumping toxic waste into our drinking water. In any case you’re correct, like I said in a prior comment, we just like to feel special by segregating ourselves. It helps give people a sense of importance to our seemingly meaningless existence.

      February 28, 2016 at 11:07 pm

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