Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Joseph Vandello, Ph. D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Bosson, Ph. D.

Committee Member

Russell Johnson, Ph. D.


Heterosexism, Gay Rights, Positive Stereotypes, Underdog Support, Law


The deleterious impact of negative stereotypes toward gays has been established, but less thoroughly examined are the potentially harmful effects that positive stereotypes may carry. Gay Americans lack multiple legal rights enjoyed by heterosexual citizens, yet many people do not see gays as a genuinely disadvantaged group. One possible reason for this is the popular misconception that gays are wealthier than the average American. Drawing on previous research regarding popular support for underdogs, it was predicted that, to the extent people endorsed the conception of gay affluence, they would be less likely to support legal reform benefiting gays. This hypothesis was supported: after controlling for overall homophobia and religiosity, perceiving gays as wealthy negatively predicted support for gay rights. This project also explored what emotional or cognitive mechanisms might influence the predicted relationship. Support was found for both resentment and system justification motivations as potential contributors to the effect.