This study examines Allport’ s “ contact hypothesis” and the effects of intrapersonal media contact on the amelioration of homosexual prejudices and stereotypes. Studies have shown that media contact has a large effect on prejudices and stereotypes. The establishment of media as a 24 hour, 7 day-a-week source of entertainment and knowledge has become a major source for socialization towards minority groups. Particularly in the case of homosexuals, media has become the primary source of entrance into the gay and lesbian world for the majority of Americans. Because of the media’ s ability to allow access into the homosexual world and the impact these visual images have on socialization of attitudes towards homosexuality, this study focuses on the media’ s capability to ameliorate prejudices held towards homosexuality when it represents homosexuals in a positive manner. In the past media depictions of homosexuals were few and far between. In addition, if homosexuals were portrayed in the media it was through stereotypical characterizations. In recent years the media has begun to increase visibility of homosexuals. However, most media portrayals of homosexuals are still stereotypical and prejudiced. Studies in the past, which have tried to link intrapersonal media contact and the amelioration of minority stereotypes, have used small samples and have only tested for instantaneous results, not long lasting trends. Utilizing the General Social Survey, this study examines the effects television has on prejudices towards homosexuals between the years 1991 and 1998. The initial findings indicate that television exposure to homosexuals begins to ameliorate homosexual prejudices for individuals with a great deal of trust in television. The study also indicates that as homosexuals gain more visibility within the media individual prejudices towards homosexuals begin to dissipate.
Andrew Rankin, ’07 Rochester, MN
Majors: Sociology, Philosophy
Sponsor: Erin Davis