Measuring Attitudes Toward Homosexuality

Homosexuality Attitude Scale
Components of Attitudes Toward Homosexuality
Permission to Use Scales Developed by Kite and Colleagues

There are a number of attitude scales designed to assess attitudes toward gay men and lesbians. The most commonly used are Herek's (1988) Heterosexuals' Attitudes Toward Lesbians and Gay Men (The Journal of Sex Research, 25, 451-477), and Larson et al.'s (1980) Heterosexuals' Attitudes Toward Homosexuality (The Journal of Sex Research, 16, 245-257).

Researchers interested in a general measure should consider a thermometer measure, such as the one used by Haddock et al. (1993). This single item measure correlates over.90 with Kite and Deaux's (1986) Homosexuality Attitude Scale and is likely to work well when one wants a global evaluation of lesbians and gay men. Another excellent option is the attitude measure developed by Eagly and Mladinic (1989, see also Haddock et al. 1993). This measure is advantageous because participants provide the characteristics they associate with the target and then evaluate those characteristics.

Homosexuality Attitude Scale (Link to Measure)

Kite, M.E., & Deaux, K., 1986. Attitudes toward homosexuality: Assessment and behavioral consequences. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 7, 137-162

The Homosexuality Attitude Scale is a Likert scale that assesses people's stereotypes, misconceptions, and anxieties about homosexuals. The measure contains a unidimensional factor representing a favorable or unfavorable evaluation of homosexuals.

The scale has excellent internal consistency (alphas >.92). The scale has a good test-retest reliability (r = .71). It is equally reliable for gay male and for lesbian targets. Attitude scores for "gay male", "lesbian", and "homosexual" targets do not differ significantly. However, researchers are best served by selection specific target and avoiding "homosexual" as an attitude object.

Convergent Validity: The scale correlates (rs =.50) with the FEM Scale (Smith, Ferree, & Miller, 1975) and the Attitude Toward Women Scale (Spence & Helmreich, 1978). It is unrelated to the agency/communion scales of the Personal Attributes Questionnaire (Spence, Helmreich, & Stapp, 1974) and is unrelated to the M and F Scale of the Bem Sex Role Inventory (Bem, 1974). It is also unrelated to the Self-monitoring Scale (Snyder, 1974), the Marlowe-Crown Social Desirability Scale (Crowne & Marlowe, 1960), and the Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965).

Components of Attitudes Toward Homosexuality (Link to Measure)

LaMar and Kite (1998). Sex differences in attitudes toward gay men and lesbians: A multi-dimensional perspective. The Journal of Sex Research, 35, 189-196.

This is a multi-dimensional measure of attitudes toward homosexuality. This scale includes four factors: Condemnation/Tolerance, Morality, Contact, and Stereotypes. Although the Condemnation/Tolerance and Morality factors may be similar for many purposes, it appears that the Contact and Stereotypes subscales are distinct factors. Researchers searching for a more fine-grained analysis of attitudes toward gay men and lesbians might choose one of those four factors.

Permission to Use Scales Developed by Kite and Colleagues

Researchers who wish to use the Homosexuality Attitude Scale (Kite & Deaux, 1986) or the Component Measure (LaMar & Kite, 1998) may do so. I ask only that the reference for these measures be reported in any published document and that the researchers send me basic psychometric data (e.g., means, standard deviations, alphas, correlations with other measures) for the measure based on their sample.