Sociocultural and Individual Manifestations of Sexual Stigma: The Role of Political Ideology and Prejudice in Discrimination Against Sexual Minorities


  • Crystal L. Hoyt
  • Mitchell Parry


Understanding the complex manifestations of sexual stigma is crucial in helping to prevent discrimination toward sexual minorities. In this research, we examined the role of heterosexism within political ideology systems and the process through which these systems promote discrimination by focusing on sexual prejudice. Across four studies, we tested the predictions that more conservative political ideologies and greater levels of sexual prejudice will be associated with more negative evaluations of an applicant with a sexual stigma, and that prejudice will mediate the link between ideology and evaluation. We employed an experimental paradigm such that participants were presented nearly identical information in an intern applicant evaluation context, however, cues to sexual stigma were either present or absent. Overall, conservative ideology negatively predicted evaluation in the stigma, but not the control, condition and greater levels of sexual prejudice more strongly negatively predicted evaluations in the stigma, relative to control, condition. Finally, whereas ideology indirectly predicted candidate evaluation through prejudice generally, the effect was stronger for the applicant with the sexual stigma. This research extends the scholarship linking ideology to sexual stigma by examining employment discrimination and testing the mediating role of prejudice linking ideology to discrimination. By examining the role of ideology, it also broadens the research on bias in employment contexts. Understanding the role of both political ideology as well as individual sexual prejudice in discrimination may facilitate efforts to dismantle discrimination.