Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Debra L. Lieberman

Second Committee Member

Michael E. McCullough

Third Committee Member

Barbara A. Whitlock


Recent research has shown that heightened sensitivity to disgust predicts an increased level of bias against homosexuals. However, this research has some methodological issues. First, it confounds attitudes toward male and female homosexuality by studying attitudes toward “homosexuals” despite an accumulating body of evidence showing that attitudes toward gay men and lesbians differ. Second, past research has focused on a single domain of disgust, pathogen disgust. According to recent evolutionary models, there are at least three subtypes of disgust—pathogen, sexual, and moral disgust—each with different functional domains. It is currently unknown what types of disgust beyond pathogen disgust might underlie anti-gay attitudes. Third, existing research is correlational, and cannot speak to how disgust causes stigma toward gay men. Finally, no model has examined attitudes toward gay men at the implicit (nonconscious) level. To fill these gaps, the present study aims to determine how activation of, and sensitivity to, domain-specific disgust affects attitudes toward gay men at both explicit and implicit levels. This thesis discusses the results of the study, and comments on the interplay of disgust, morality and the stigmatization of gay men.


implicit attitudes; homosexuality; gay men; disgust; stigma; morality