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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Dec 2014

Straights >lesbians >gays: Study reveals notions on the hierarchy of love

IANS  New York, August 19, 2014
First Published: 13:31 IST(19/8/2014) | Last Updated: 13:38 IST(19/8/2014)

People seem to think of loving relationships in a hierarchy, with heterosexual couples being the most “in love” followed by lesbian couples and then gay couples, finds an interesting study.

According to researchers at Indiana University, how “in love” a participant understood the couple to be led them to decide how many informal or formal rights they may deserve as a couple - from holding hands in public to having the right to marry.

“If you ask what someone thinks of a same-sex couple or what they think of a straight couple, they usually have different images in mind for the same-sex and straight couples,” said Long Doan, a doctoral student in department of sociology at Indiana University's college of arts and sciences.

The study was created to understand how people's attitudes differ based on sexual orientation.

“By taking away those preconceived differences in relationships, we can pinpoint that the differences in perception are due to sexual orientation alone, instead of other factors that complicate the picture like presumed marital status of same-sex and straight couples,” Doan suggested.

Also read: Homophobia: here's how to get over it

To achieve this, Doan and his colleagues developed a study that asked participants to read the exact same story about a romantic couple, while randomly changing the names of the two main characters to denote whether the couple was heterosexual, lesbian or gay.

The findings suggest that people seem to think of loving relationships in a hierarchy.

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“There is a lot of focus on portraying gay couples as just as loving as straight couples. This should be an effective approach because it seems that people are swayed by the notion of love,” Doan added.

If you can somehow convince people that gay couples are just as loving, then it seems more likely that their movement will gain more support, researchers added.


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