Despite shifts toward greater acceptance in U.S. public opinion and policy, lesbian, gay, and bisexual people remain widely stigmatized. This article reviews empirical research on sexual prejudice, that is, heterosexuals’ internalization of cultural stigma, manifested in the form of negative attitudes toward sexual minorities and same-sex desires and behaviors. After briefly reviewing measurement issues, we discuss linkages between sexual prejudice and religion, gender, sexuality, and related variables, and consider how the cultural institutions encompassing these domains create a social context within which individual expressions of prejudice can meet important psychological needs. These include needs for securing social acceptance, affirming values that are central to one’s self-concept, and avoiding anxiety and other negative emotions associated with threats to self-esteem. We conclude by discussing factors that may motivate heterosexuals to reduce their own sexual prejudice, including intergroup contact, as well as avenues for future empirical inquiry. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Psychology Volume 64 is November 30, 2012. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/catalog/pubdates.aspx for revised estimates.
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