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Can Openly Gay Actors Convince in Straight Roles?

By Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on May 14, 2013

Can Openly Gay Actors Play Straight Roles? New research looks into the influence of gender roles on job credibility and performance ranking among entertainers.

Clemson University researchers studied an issue raised in a recent news column that suggested an “out” actor cannot convincingly play a heterosexual because knowing someone is gay will bias perceptions of his or her performance.

Researchers discovered that although knowing an actor is gay significantly affected ratings of his masculinity, there was no significant effect on ratings of his acting performance.

“Early research showed that people tend to perceive a direct connection between sexual orientation and established gender roles, especially in the entertainment industry,” said Paul Merritt, Ph.D.

“However, these new findings indicate that knowledge of an actor’s sexual orientation doesn’t necessarily cause their performance to be perceived in light of stereotypes about gays and lesbians.”

For the study, published in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture, nearly 400 college students answered questions about a male actor’s fictional Facebook page that included a photograph and basic demographic information, including sexual orientation.

After watching a video of the actor’s performance, participants rated the performance and their likelihood of casting the actor in their own productions.

The findings indicate that knowledge of an actor’s sexual orientation doesn’t necessarily cause their performance to be perceived in light of stereotypes about gays and lesbians.

Moreover, there was no significant effect on ratings of a knowingly gay person’s performance.

Source: Clemson University

Man standing with another man behind him photo by shutterstock.

 

APA Reference
Nauert, R. (2013). Can Openly Gay Actors Convince in Straight Roles?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2013/05/14/can-openly-gay-actors-convince-in-straight-roles/54815.html