Exposure to anti-LGBTQ+ Violence and the Adoption of Prosocial Political Attitudes Towards LGBTQ+ People

Does indirect exposure to anti-LGBTQ+ violence perpetrated by civilians engender prosocial political attitudes toward LGBTQ+ people among the mass public?

Anti LGBTQ+ violence may reflect heteronormative values among the mass public. Thus, these values may be resistant to introspection after high-profile anti-LGBTQ+ violence. However, social psychological insights suggest indirect exposure to violence against marginalized minority groups may motivate empathy among the mass public. We adjudicate between these perspectives by evaluating how two prominent U.S. instances of anti-LGBTQ+ violence informed attitudes toward LGBTQ+ people.

Across three studies, we find indirect exposure to anti-LGBTQ+ violence increases support for LGBTQ+ political rights and reduces anti-gay attitudes. However, consistent with theoretical accounts that posit punctuated moments of group marginalization generate a temporally fickle influence on public opinion, we find the increase in prosocial political attitudes is only short-term.

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