Essentialist Beliefs and Attitudes towards Homosexuals: Latent Profile Analysis
Psychological essentialism is the layperson’s belief that social categories are natural and entitative. Studies have shown that essentialist beliefs are strongly connected with prejudice. Previous research into essentialist beliefs predominantly used a variable-centered approach to investigating the relationship between essentialist beliefs and prejudice. Extending these researches, we used a person-centered approach to explore the relationship between different essentialist beliefs related to sexual orientation (naturalness, homogeneity, discreteness and informativeness). We examined the relationships between essentialist belief profiles and negative attitudes towards homosexuals. The study involved 356 respondents with different sexual orientations. Using latent profile analysis, we identified four distinct essentialist belief profiles, which could be placed on a continuum of increasing essentialist beliefs about social and psychological differences between gender groups and sexual orientation. Individuals with various profiles differed significantly in levels of identification with gender group, right-wing authoritarianism, and social dominance orientation. Individuals whose profiles indicated relatively high levels of essentialist beliefs about social and psychological differences between gender groups and sexual orientation demonstrated more negative attitudes towards homosexuals (social distance), compared with respondents whose profiles indicated lesser essentialist beliefs in differences between groups.