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J Homosex. 2007;53(3):19-34.

Remembering gay/lesbian media characters: can Ellen and Will improve attitudes toward homosexuals?.

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University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Pembroke, NC 28372, USA.


The purpose of the current research was twofold. First, a pilot study was conducted in which participants were asked to recall any memorable gay or lesbian television or film character and complete a survey about their perceptions of the character. Results indicated that over two-thirds of heterosexual participants recalled either Ellen or Will, and evaluative ratings for these characters were generally positive. The second purpose of this research was to examine the priming effects of remembering portrayals of homosexual characters in the media. Therefore, an experiment was conducted to directly assess the effects of thinking about either a positive or negative homosexual character on general heterosexuals' attitudes toward gay men and lesbians. Results indicated that those recalling a positive portrayal later showed a more positive attitude toward gay men than those recalling a negative portrayal, and women had a more positive attitude overall than men toward gay men and lesbians. Such findings illustrate the importance of positive role models in entertainment media as potential primes of social attitudes.

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