Homophobes 'secretly attracted to people of the same sex'
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It's quite possible that homophobes -- those who hate or fear homosexual people -- may be secretly attracted to people of the same sex, say researchers.
The researchers in New York, Essex and California say they have found evidence that gays and lesbians remind homophobes of themselves -- which is why they develop an intense aversion and fear of them.
They claim homophobic people tend to repress their true sexuality as they've often been brought up in families where being gay is not acceptable, the 'Daily Mail' reported.
Netta Weintstein, a lecturer at the University of Essex, said: "Individuals who identify as straight but in psychological tests show a strong attraction to the same sex may be threatened by gays and lesbians because homosexuals remind them of similar tendencies within themselves."
Psychology Professor Richard Ryan, who helped with the research, said in many cases homophobic people are "at war" with themselves over the issue and "are turning the internal conflict outward".
The researchers have based their findings on an analysis of four experiments, each using 160 students in the US and Germany.
They measured differences between what people said about their sexuality compared to how they reacted during a timed task where they had to look at words and pictures associated with being gay or straight.
Then they were quizzed on their upbringing and were invited to look at pictures of homosexual or heterosexual couples. Conscious and subconscious levels of homophobia were measured using words and images.
The findings are to be published in an upcoming edition of the 'Journal of Personality and Social Psychology'.