Is Homophobia Linked to Psychoticism?

Young kid getting bullied by older kidsPeople with homophobic attitudes are more likely to exhibit psychotic and dysfunctional personality traits, according to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. Homophobia contributes to many challenges among the LGBT community, including bullying, employment discrimination, verbal abuse, and physical violence. The 2011 National School Climate Survey found that 82% of LGBT youth experienced bullying related to their sexual orientation.

Homophobia: the Product of Dysfunctional Personality Traits?

To explore the connection between homophobia and various personality traits, researchers from the University of L’Aquila in Italy worked with 551 college students ranging in age from 15 to 30. The students completed several psychometric tests to identify their levels of homophobia as well as psychological factors that might correlate with homophobia. Participants also completed surveys about their attachment styles, psychopathological symptoms, defense mechanisms, and other personality traits.

Students who scored higher than average on measures of psychoticism were more likely to be homophobic. Psychoticism is a personality trait—not a disease or mental health issue—but a number of mental health conditions are associated with psychoticism. People with high levels of psychoticism tend to be aggressive and hostile, and they may reject social norms.

Students who reported fearful attachment styles were also more likely to display homophobic attitudes. Fearful attachment styles can inhibit the ability to form and sustain lasting relationships. Finally, researchers found that those who had “immature” or “dysfunctional” coping mechanisms tended to be more homophobic. Coping mechanisms are techniques people use to manage uncomfortable or anxiety-inducing emotions.

Those with depression and a secure attachment style were less likely to be homophobic. Researchers say this may be because people with depression are more likely to internalize their hostility, rather than direct it outward, and those with secure attachments are less likely to be threatened by non-heterosexual identities and orientations.


  1. LGBT bullying statistics. (2014, May 31). Retrieved from
  2. Osborne, H. (2015, September 09). Homophobia linked with psychoticism and dysfunctional personality traits. Retrieved from

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  • marc

    September 11th, 2015 at 10:19 AM

    aaahhh so is the theory that people who dislike themselves the most are the ones who are the most likely to exhibit hateful attitudes toward others?

    Interesting if true

  • Mark

    September 11th, 2015 at 9:28 PM

    What about the victim complex, isn’t that a form of self loathing? Remember the empowerment movement? Why did you guys in therapy give that up?

  • me

    September 14th, 2015 at 4:00 PM

    I’m trying to figure out where the term “homophobia” came from. The Bible lists homosexuality as sin, and people coin you with a made up phrase and call you a hater, bigot etc just because you don’t agree with them. I certainly don’t fear nor hate them, just wish they knew the love of Jesus and the truth.

  • Trevor

    January 7th, 2016 at 5:30 AM

    The bible is a fairy story, if it helps you with your fear of death, well that is just fine and dandy, but you have no proof to substantiate your hate or opinions, your so called truth is a fantasy, god bless ya sweetie.

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