PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Two studies conducted by psychology researchers at the University of Oregon indicate that people are more likely to discriminate against gay, nonbinary and transgender people if they have certain personality traits.
Cameron Kay and Sarah Dimakis, two UO doctoral students, shared their study findings in “Moral Foundations Partially Explain the Associations of Machiavellianism, Grandiose Narcissism, and Psychopathy with Homonegativity and Transnegativity.”
The researchers asserted that similar studies have been done before, but those focused on other forms of discrimination.
“At the broadest level, there is very little conceptualization of prejudice within personality,” Kay, who specializes in personality psychology, said. “It isn’t really thought of as an aspect of personality. In the past, people have shown that certain personality traits are associated with racism or associated with xenophobia towards immigrants, and this is kind of an additional piece in that puzzle, telling us there is a way we can predict prejudice. It’s through personality.”
According to UO, Kay and Dimakis’ study found that there is often a correlation between people who hold negative beliefs against LGBTQ+ identities and people with antagonistic personality traits — which the researchers define as Machiavellianism, narcissism and psychopathy.
The “negative beliefs” mentioned by the university include, “the belief that gay men should not be allowed to work with children and that gender affirmation surgery is morally wrong.”
Additionally, the research shows that the number of antagonistic personality traits that someone possesses can reflect which morals are most important to them. For example, Kay said that people with antagonistic personalities tend to care less about equality and protecting others.
Kay and Dimakis have prior experience with personality-based projects, but this one posed a challenge due to the need to find people who hold all beliefs.
“We’re not just looking for people who don’t hold prejudicial beliefs,” Dimakis, a social psychologist, said. “We also need to collect a sample of people who do hold prejudicial beliefs, and those people are difficult to obtain in the traditional samples that you can gather easily from undergraduate students.”