Prejudice Against “Group X” (Asexuals)


«In a recent investigation (MacInnis & Hodson, in press) we uncovered strikingly strong bias against asexuals in both university and community samples. Relative to heterosexuals, and even relative to homosexuals and bisexuals, heterosexuals: (a) expressed more negative attitudes toward asexuals (i.e., prejudice); (b) desired less contact with asexuals; and (c) were less willing to rent an apartment to (or hire) an asexual applicant (i.e., discrimination). Moreover, of all the sexual minority groups studied, asexuals were the most dehumanized (i.e., represented as “less human”). Intriguingly, heterosexuals dehumanized asexuals in two ways. Given their lack of sexual interest, widely considered a universal interest, it might not surprise you to learn that asexuals were characterized as “machine-like” (i.e., mechanistically dehumanized). But, oddly enough, asexuals were also seen as “animal-like” (i.e., animalistically dehumanized). Yes, asexuals were seen as relatively cold and emotionless and unrestrained, impulsive, and less sophisticated.

When you repeatedly observe such findings it grabs your attention as a prejudice researcher. But let’s go back a minute and consider those discrimination effects. Really? You’d not rent an apartment to an asexual man, or hire an asexual woman? Even if you relied on stereotypes alone, presumably such people would make ideal tenants and employees. We pondered whether this bias actually represents bias against single people, a recently uncovered and very real bias in its own right (see Psychology Today column by Bella DePaulo). But our statistical analyses ruled out this this possibility. So what’s going on here?»

Read the whole article here.