Relationships between attitudes and norms with homophobic language use in male team sports

Erik Denison, Nick Faulkner, Ruth Jeanes, Daniel Toole

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: This study addresses a need for quantitative research examining factors supporting the frequent use of homophobic language (e.g., fag) in male team sports which has a range of negative health impacts on gay and bisexual males. Intervention methods are needed to stop this behaviour, but little is known about why this language remains common. Design: Cross-Sectional survey. Method: Male Rugby Union (n = 97; ages 16 -18 years) and Ice Hockey players (n = 146; ages 16 - 31 years) self-reported their use of homophobic language and completed measures of homophobic attitudes and descriptive and injunctive norms related to language use on their team. Bivariate and multivariate analyses examined factors associated with this behaviour. Results: Over half of participants (53.8%) self-reported using homophobic language at least once in the previous two weeks. No relationship was found between homophobic attitudes and language use. In contrast, norm measures had a strong, positive relationship with this behaviour. In multivariate analyses, norms uniquely accounted for almost one-half of the variance in language use. The addition of descriptive norms into the full model led to the largest increase in R2 of. 340 (F(1,200) = 130.816, p < .001). Conclusions: Homophobic language use was related to norms, rather than homophobic attitudes. Interventions targeting changes to these norms could be an effective method to change this behaviour. This finding contributes to a growing body of evidence that norms are associated with a range of negative behaviours by male athletes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-504
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • LGBT
  • Mental Health
  • Prejudice
  • Public health
  • Sexuality
  • Sport Participation

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