Homophobia as "Frustration of Expectancy"
Copyright 2003, James Michael Howard, Fayetteville, Arkansas, U.S.A.
I suggest "frustration of expectancy" may be the source of homophobia. That is,
when a male witnesses homosexuality unexpectedly, energy is created within the
brain that has no conduit for control or release.
When men see other men, the fight or flight mechanism is activated. This energy
created by the sight of other men is conducted to structures which control
flight or fight. The body is automatically activated. The degree of behavior
activation is determined by the prefrontal lobes and the association areas. The
prefrontal lobes control behavior initiated by the mid-brain and our association
areas contain our expectancies. So, when a male sees another male, nervous
energy is created. The fight or flight mechanism is initiated. The body is
activated. The prefrontal lobes and the association areas combine to produce the
If a male sees an unfamiliar male, the data of experience with, and knowledge
of, other unfamiliar males and the level of prefrontal control combine to
determine the behavior. Expectancy, dependent upon experience with low
aggression unfamiliar males, may combine with low prefrontal control to produce
aggression. The same expectancy combined with high prefrontal control may
produce low aggression. Expectancy, dependent upon experience with high
aggression unfamiliar males and low prefrontal control may produce high
aggression. The same expectancy combined with high prefrontal control may result
in some combination of heightened aggression with active behavior dependent upon
further input from the unfamiliar male.
Males inexperienced with seeing other males kissing, or exhibiting other very
unfamiliar behaviors, essentially have no data in their association areas upon
which to form expectancies. Their expectancies of male to male interactions are
totally frustrated. The energy stimulated by this interaction activates their
fight or flight mechanism, readies their bodies, and has no conduit of energy
release. Now, if this individual has low prefrontal control, the reaction may be
physical aggression towards the unfamiliar males. Individuals of high prefrontal
control may experience the exaggerated responses as revulsion but not act upon
it. Both feel homophobia because this frustrates their expectancy without a re
"course" for their nervous activation. In one case it activates violent
behavior, in the other it activates violent sensation.
Some in our society actively propose the expectancies that homosexuality "is
wrong, or a sin, or immoral." This will act to increase the response in
individuals dependent upon the level of control of their prefrontal lobes. These
individuals probably will not like homosexuals and may or may not act
The response of individuals who may be prone to act aggressively towards
homosexuality may be ameliorated by input to their association areas. That is,
public education and public exposure to homosexuality as a "normal" product of
altered brain function / structure may reduce the input from their association
areas and reduce homophobia, at least, to simple revulsion which is their right
and the right of the cultures.