Homophobia is an issue directly affecting the majority of individuals identifying as part of the LGBT+ community, and a new study is linking it to the possible mental instability of individuals who practice it. The study was conducted on 551 college students between the age of 18-30, who were asked to complete several psychometric evaluations. The research measured the level of homophobia in the participant by making use of a Homophobia Scale (HS) and found that higher levels of homophobia were linked to psychoticism and immature defense mechanisms.
Psychoticism is defined by Eysenck as a personality type that is prone to take risks, might engage in anti-social behaviors, impulsiveness, or non-conformist behavior. The study results show a shocking and never-before-seen data:
After a regression analysis, we found a significant predictive value of psychoticism (β = 0.142; P = 0.04) and of immature defense mechanisms (β = 0.257; P < 0.0001) for homophobia, while neurotic defense mechanisms (β = −0.123; P = 0.02) and depressive symptoms (β = −0.152; P = 0.04) have an opposite role. Moreover, categorical constructs of the RQ revealed a significant difference between secure and fearful attachments styles in levels of homophobia (secure = 22.09 ± 17.22 vs. fearful = 31.07 ± 25.09; P < 0.05). Finally, a gender difference to HS scores and a significant influence of male sex was found (β = 0.213; P < 0.0001).
The study concludes:
We demonstrated the involvement of psychoticism and immature defense mechanisms in homophobic attitudes, while a contrasting role is played by neurotic defense mechanisms and depressive symptoms. Moreover, secure attachment is an indicator of low levels of homophobia compared with the subjects demonstrating a fearful style of attachment. Hence, in the assessment of homophobia and in the relevant programs of prevention, it is necessary to consider the psychologic aspects described earlier.
Previous studies show that it is not rare for homophobes to be gay themselves, they use homophobia as a defense mechanism so others will not assume that the homophobes have homosexual tendencies themselves, this may also be linked to the conclusion of this study which labeled the practice an “immature defense mechanism.”