Gay PDAs are disgusting?
This is what a study published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Psychology & Sexuality implies, as it noted that heterosexual men had the same physiological stress response to pictures of two men kissing each other and to pictures of rotting flesh, maggots and spoiled food.
In “What do two men kissing and a bucket of maggots have in common? Heterosexual men’s indistinguishable salivary α-amylase responses to photos of two men kissing and disgusting images”, Breanna Maureen O’Handley, Karen L. Blair and Rhea Ashley Hoskin examined how men’s (from Utah) physiological reactions to viewing same-sex public displays of affection (PDA), measured through salivary alpha-amylase (sAA), differ as a function of sexual prejudice, as assessed using the Attitudes Towards Lesbians and Gay Men Scale (ATLG) and the Modern Homonegativity Scale.
sAA is a digestive enzyme associated with stress and is especially responsive to disgust, so measuring levels of sAA allowed the researchers to examine the men’s physiological reaction to the photos.
In the study, 120 heterosexual men (aged 18 to 45) were made to view six different slide shows depicting same-sex PDA, mixed-sex PDA, everyday items, and “disgusting images”, while providing saliva samples in the lab.
A series of paired-samples t-tests was performed and found that sAA responses to images of same-sex kissing (t(98) = 3.124, p = .002) and universally disgusting images (t(98) = 2.128, p = .036) were significantly greater than sAA responses to the slide show depicting everyday items.
Perhaps waxing positive, study co-author Blair warned in an interview by PsyPost that it is “difficult to specifically state what this means”.
“It could mean that participants found the images of male same-sex couples kissing to be equally disgusting as the disgusting images. It could mean that they had an anxiety response to the male couples kissing and a disgust response to the disgusting images, but that physiologically, we could not tell the difference between these two emotions,” Blair was quoted as saying.
Surprisingly, the study’s result “held across the full sample, regardless of individual levels of prejudice”. Meaning, the results suggest that “all individuals, not just highly sexually prejudiced individuals, may experience a physiological response indicative of stress when witnessing a male same-sex couple kissing.”
According to the authors, this may be because of “a socialized disgust response to same-sex PDA” – i.e. that “society has socialized the notion of same-sex sexuality and affection as being ‘disgusting’ or immoral so strongly, for so long, that merely witnessing it causes a slight physiological stress response,” Blair said to PsyPost.