Date of Award

12-1-2010

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Fischer, Ann

Abstract

This study attempted to understand how personal and sociocultural factors related to heterosexual women's number of lesbian friends. The relationships between levels of Extraversion, homophobia, heterosexism, and opportunity for friendships, and the number of lesbian women identified as acquaintances were assessed to examine how these variables related to participants' reported number of lesbian friends. It was expected that Extraversion would positively correlate with number of lesbian friends while heterosexism and homophobia would negatively correlate with number of lesbian friends. The number of lesbian acquaintances one had was expected to moderate these relationships. Female Women's Studies students who identified as heterosexual completed items from the International Personality Item Pool, the Attitudes Toward Lesbians Scale, the Modern Homonegativity Scale, the Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding Impression Management scale, a Number of Friends and Acquaintances form, and a demographics questionnaire using an internet-based survey host. To test the hypotheses, partial correlations and multiple regression analyses were conducted. It was found that heterosexism and homophobia but not extraversion were significantly related to the number of lesbian friends participants reported. The expected moderation by the reported number of lesbian acquaintances was not significant for any of these relationships. A number of exploratory analyses were conducted, which revealed a variety of interesting findings. The personality domain Openness was related to the reported number of lesbian friends, as were previous, positive experiences with lesbian women, and one's religious subscription. Conclusions can help future research improve social support for lesbian girls and women. Research should be extended to examine cross-orientation relationships among those of different social identities.

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