Perceptual Underpinnings of Antigay Prejudice: Negative Evaluations of Sexual Minority Women Arise on the Basis of Gendered Facial Features.


Psychologists have amassed robust evidence of antigay prejudice by assessing participants' global attitudes toward sexual minorities and their reactions to behavioral descriptions of hypothetical targets. In daily interactions, however, perceivers make decisions about others' sexual orientations based upon visible cues alone. Does antigay prejudice arise on the basis of such visual exposure, and if so, why? Three studies revealed that perceivers evaluated women they categorized as lesbians more negatively than women they categorized as straight. Moreover, prejudice against lesbian women was strongly tethered to gendered aspects of their facial appearance: Women categorized as lesbians tended to appear gender-atypical, and women who appeared gender-atypical were perceived to be unattractive, leading to prejudice. Similar findings did not emerge for men categorized as gay. As such, we argue that gendered appearance cues lay the perceptual foundation for prejudice against women, but not men, who are categorized as sexual minorities.


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