Student research examines role of disgust in prejudice towards sexual minorities

By in News

On Feb. 5, the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union held its annual Undergraduate Project Symposium, where fourth-year psychology honours student Bidushy Sadika presented her research, taking home a $300 prize.

The UPS is an opportunity for undergraduate students to submit a research project for a chance to win an award. Sadika’s research was a comparative analysis of the participant’s disgust levels and how this disgust is related to prejudice and discrimination towards those perceived as gay men or lesbian women, which is called homonegativity.

Through this research, Sadika hopes to analyze the relationship between disgust, homonegativity and discrimination towards sexual minorities. Sadika explains further what she intended to find through her research.

“The purpose of my research is to look at how [an] individual’s … disgust is related to old-fashioned and modern homonegativity and also how it is related to discriminatory intentions or behaviours,” Sadika said.

Sadika received the third-place prize in the social sciences, humanities and fine arts category. In the same category, the second-place prize went to Julianne Labach for her study about how President Trump’s tweets affect the stock market and the first-place prize was presented to Brynn Kosteniuk for her study on how companion animals contribute to recovery from opioid addiction.

The projects can come from any area of study, ranging from art installations to psychological studies like Sadika’s research submission. Her research explored homonegativity in two forms, she explains. The first is old-fashioned homonegativity, which is usually based on religious objections, and the second is modern homonegativity, which is based on more abstract concerns and misconceptions.

“Old-fashioned homonegativity would be believing that homosexual activity is a sin,” Sadika said. “For modern homonegativity, it could be something like thinking discrimination towards gay men and lesbian women is a thing of the past.”

Since she was comparing findings relating to both gay men and lesbian women, she had to collect two sets of data, Sadika notes.

“It’s a simple online survey, and there are two versions of the survey. One version looks at prejudice and discrimination against gay men and the other version would look at prejudice and discrimination against lesbian women. That way, I can compare between the two,” Sadika said.

Although she presented her research at the UPS, Sadika is still in the process of conducting her research, and a link to the survey for her project can be accessed through the PAWS bulletin feed. Sadika describes the preliminary results of her study at the time of the symposium.

“We are still collecting data, but for the symposium, we analyzed the responses that we got. We had 218 participants at the time, and we found that participants who are disgusted towards situations involving sexual activities … are more prejudiced and [tend to] discriminate towards sexual minorities, especially towards gay men,” Sadika said.

The inspiration to pursue this project developed while Sadika was enrolled in a psychology course.

“When I was in my 300-level courses in psychology, I really got interested with the research topic of attitudes towards different social groups,” Sadika said. “I was interested in how we perceive minority groups, so that’s how I got interested in this topic.”

Sadika hopes that her research contributes to society by creating a greater understanding of the experiences of sexual minorities and helping to explain the role of disgust in prejudice and discrimination. This is an area of study that Sadika looks forward to pursuing in the future, as she is applying for the Canada Graduate Scholarships Master’s Program through the Tri-Agency research-funding collaboration.

“I recently applied for the [Tri-Agency] scholarship, because I am applying for graduate school next year,” Sadika said. “For that scholarship, my research proposal is related to how [sexual minorities] experience prejudice within their own families and friends, and I’m quite excited about that.”

Lyndsay Afseth / Staff Writer

Graphic: emilegraphics / Flickr