Sexual Prejudice: Avoiding Unwanted Sexual Interest?

Angela G. Pirlott, Steven Neuberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Sexual prejudice may arise from beliefs that certain sexual orientation groups direct unwanted sexual interest, with the implication that heterosexual men and women hold prejudices against different groups. Study 1 confirmed that heterosexual women believe bisexual men, bisexual women, and lesbians (but not gay men) direct unwanted sexual interest, whereas heterosexual men believe bisexual and gay men (but not bisexual women or lesbians) direct unwanted sexual interest. Study 2 revealed patterns of negativity toward different sexual orientation groups mirroring Study 1's pattern of perceptions of unwanted sexual interest and Study 3 demonstrated that the perception of unwanted sexual interest statistically mediates the relationship between target sexual orientation group and negativity. Existing theoretical approaches for understanding sexual prejudices, including the in-group-out-group heterosexism, gender-role violation, and sexual identity threat approaches, fail to account for the nuanced pattern of findings observed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-101
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • heterosexism
  • homophobia
  • prejudice
  • sexual orientation
  • unwanted sexual interest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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