I-sharing after a gender status threat and its implications for attitudes toward gay men.

Following threats to their gender status, heterosexual men often respond defensively by, for example, expressing more negativity toward gay men. In contrast, I-sharing–instances when people feel as though they have the same in-the-moment experience with another individual (e.g., they both cry or laugh at the same stimulus)–improves heterosexual men’s attitudes toward gay men. Here, we integrate two literatures to ask whether I-sharing with a gay partner mitigates heterosexual men’s defensive, antigay reactions following a gender status threat. Study 1 established that heterosexual men like a heterosexual partner better than a gay partner (d = 0.46), and that men respond defensively to a gender status threat (d = 0.66). Studies 2 and 3 asked whether I-sharing mitigates these effects. In both studies, heterosexual men either experienced or did not experience a gender threat before interacting with a computerized partner with whom they did or did not I-share. In Study 2, we manipulated the sexual orientation of the partner, such that he was either gay or heterosexual. Participants preferred the I-sharer over the non-I-sharer (d = 0.58), and neither the gender threat nor the sexual orientation of their partner moderated this effect. Study 3 findings replicated those of Study 2 and also revealed that I-sharing with a gay partner decreased heterosexual men’s defensiveness about gender threatening feedback (d = 0.40). Together, the results point to the promise that I-sharing offers for promoting more positive attitudes toward gay men, particularly among those heterosexual men doubting their own masculinity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)