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Transcript Psychology Journal of Language and Social DOI: 10.1177/0261927X06292769 2006; 25; 437 Journal of Language and Social Psychology  Catherine W. Gowen and Thomas W. Britt on the Stigmatization of Men: Evidence for Expectancy Violation TheoryThe Interactive Effects of Homosexual Speech and Sexual Orientation   The online version of this article can be found at:   Published by:   at:can be found Journal of Language and Social Psychology Additional services and information for Email Alerts: Subscriptions: Reprints: Permissions:  © 2006 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.  by on May 22, 2008 http://jls.sagepub.comDownloaded from   437 Journal of Languageand Social Psychology Volume 25 Number 4December 2006 437-456© 2006 Sage Publications10.1177/0261927X06292769http://jls.sagepub.comhosted at The Interactive Effectsof Homosexual Speechand Sexual Orientation onthe Stigmatization of Men Evidence for Expectancy Violation Theory Catherine W. GowenThomas W. Britt Clemson UniversityClemson,South Carolina This research examined the joint effects of homosexual linguistic variation and sexualorientation on the stigmatization of male students applying for college admission.Participants were asked to listen to a tape of a speaker who was identified as homo-sexual,heterosexual,or unspecified and spoke with either stereotypical gay speech orstandard speech. Participants made admission decisions,indicated the amount of schol-arship funding to be offered,and completed a measure of desired social distance.Participants responded more positively to the homosexual speaker when he spoke withstereotypical gay speech than with standard speech but gave a heterosexual speaker lessof a scholarship when he spoke with gay speech. Negative attitudes toward homosexu-als were related to greater desired social distance toward homosexuals,especially if theindividual spoke with gay speech,but did not predict admission or scholarship decisionratings. The results are discussed in terms of the potential negative consequences of expectancy violations versus the benefits of conformity to stereotypes.  Keywords: stigma; sexual orientation; gay male speak; expectancy violation theory T hroughout the history of the United States,various minority groups have strug-gled to gain acceptance among the prevailing majority of the time. Regardless of whether the battles are fought over nationality,religion,gender,race,sexual orienta-tion,or some other category,the depth of the controversy is at least partially due tothe fundamental moral values attached to each side,allowing those stigmatizing tobelieve that they are just in doing so (Jost & Major,2001). Adding to the difficulties Authors’Note: We would like to thank Patti Connor-Greene,Mary Anne Taylor,Loraine Obler,MonicaBiernat,and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this article.Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Thomas W. Britt,Clemson University,Department of Psychology,418 Brackett Hall,Clemson,SC 29634;    © 2006 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.  by on May 22, 2008 http://jls.sagepub.comDownloaded from   faced by all minority groups,the category “homosexual”in particular is socially con-structed,forbidding it from being a clear-cut and visible grouping (Crocker,Major,&Steele,1998; Goffman,1963). Beyond the blatant stigmatization of men and womenwho openly define themselves as gay or lesbian,there also exists a level of stigmati-zation against those who,solely by the judgment of a heterosexual person,“seemgay.”How does someone create this signal about his or her sexuality? How accurateare the observations of those perceiving it?Although we use many clues to form impressions upon first meeting someone,speech markers alone can produce vivid reactions toward a person (Brown,Strong,&Rencher,1975; Giles & Powesland,1975; Lambert,1967; Sebastian & Ryan,1985).Because of variation between linguistic communities,a listener can often infer aspeaker’s group memberships merely from the sound of his or her speech,regardlessof content. The listener will then likely attribute the characteristics associated withthat group,in the absence of other information and sometimes despite contrastinginformation. In a study of the ability to distinguish homosexual men and women fromheterosexuals,termed gaydar  ,Shelp (2002) found that heterosexuals listed “how theytalk”among the top 3 clues from a list of 27 characteristics for determining astranger’s sexual orientation. Current research seems to deny the existence of a dis-tinct homosexual phonology but suggests that people use different speech clues tomake inferences regarding a speaker’s orientation (W. L. Leap,personal communica-tion,June 10,2004). Speaking in a way that produces these inferences,whether or notthey are correct,has the potential to incite stigmatization from others.The present research examined the joint effects of heterosexual versus stereotyp-ical homosexual linguistic patterns and sexual orientation on the stigmatizationof men in the context of college admission recommendations. Below,we reviewresearch on stigmatization on the basis of sexual orientation and stigmatization onthe basis of linguistic cues. We then discuss theoretical positions on how sexualorientation and linguistic patterns might interact to predict stigmatization. Stigmatization of Gay Men and Lesbians Crocker et al. (1998) defined a stigmatized person as possessing “some attribute,or characteristic,that conveys a social identity that is devalued in a particular con-text”(p. 505). Moreover,they argued that the belief that people possess certainattributes,regardless of whether they actually do,is the basis for stigmatization.Because of the subjective nature of perception,the degree of the reaction can varyon the basis of the identity of the perceiver and situational influences (Katz,1981).The history of attempts to understand negative attitudes toward the homosexualcommunity is relatively short. Weinberg’s (1972) book Society and the Healthy Homosexual arguably began this revolution,leading to objective studies of what hetermed homophobia :“the dread of being in close quarters with homosexuals”(p. 4). 438Journal of Language and Social Psychology    © 2006 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.  by on May 22, 2008 http://jls.sagepub.comDownloaded from   Weinberg was challenging the long-standing view that homosexuality was a mentalillness,something to be diagnosed and cured. He was the first to suggest that gaymen and lesbians could have a healthy acceptance of their sexuality and be free fromguilt. In 1973,homosexuality was removed from the APA’s  Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders ,opening the door to more psychological research onhomophobia and the basis of the stigmatization of lesbians and gay men.Although progress has been made in understanding negative attitudes,discrimi-nation persists in a variety of situations for gay men and lesbians,including but cer-tainly not limited to marriage (Hunt,2004),adoption (Mehren,2004),employment(Couch,2005),housing (Cain,2005),private education (Brown,2004),and,in thecase of Matthew Shepard,the right to live (Brooke,1998). Cleary,the effects of thestigma of homosexuality cannot be considered trivial.Who falls under the boundaries of being potentially stigmatized on the basis of sexual orientation? Because the group “homosexual”is socially constructed,thereare several ways of defining exactly whom we perceive as a part of the category. Ishomosexuality defined by actual behavior,general feelings of attraction,or self-identification as a gay man or lesbian? Crocker et al. (1998) suggested,“Certainly,many celibate individuals identify themselves as gay or lesbian. And many individ-uals who identify themselves as heterosexual have had one or more sexual experi-ences with a same-sex partner”(p. 505). If there is no set way to define who isconsidered homosexual,and the stigma itself is invisible,what characteristics doheterosexuals use when making inferences about someone’s sexual orientation?What is needed to evoke the potential for stigmatization in heterosexuals? Gay Male Dialect As described earlier,Shelp (2002) studied the ability to identify individuals on thebasis of sexual orientation,using the common term gaydar  . The information takenfrom his pilot survey is particularly relevant. Participants were given a list of 27 cuesused to identify sexual orientation and were asked to rate them from 0 ( gives virtu-ally no information about sexual orientation ) to 5 ( could almost be used indepen-dently to determine sexual orientation ). The mean scores were computed for severalgroups (gay,straight,and bisexual men and women). All groups ranked highest thepresence of a gay pride button or symbol. Heterosexual women then used how a per-son talks,followed by how he or she dresses,walks,and gestures (in that order). Forheterosexual men,how a person walks was ranked second highest,followed by howhe or she talks,gestures,and dresses (in that order). Although appearance is impor-tant in understanding how we evaluate others,clearly the way one speaks is at leastequally significant to consider.Although people use speech characteristics to infer someone’s sexual orientation,defining a distinct homosexual speech community is even more difficult than defining Gowen,Britt / Interactive Effects439    © 2006 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.  by on May 22, 2008 http://jls.sagepub.comDownloaded from 
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