Date of Completion

12-13-2019

Embargo Period

12-12-2020

Advisors

Seth C. Kalichman, Diane M. Quinn, Tania B. Huedo-Medina

Field of Study

Psychological Sciences

Degree

Master of Science

Open Access

Campus Access

Abstract

Men who have sex with men (MSM) remain the population most affected by the HIV epidemic in the United States, with Black MSM continuing to bear the burden of new infections. Evidence suggests that the racial disparity in HIV incidence among MSM may be due, in part, to differences in the characteristics of sexual networks between racial groups. For instance, the networks of Black MSM tend to show more racial homophily (i.e., displaying high rates of same-race partnering across members in the network). Among subpopulations with high HIV prevalence, as is observed among Black MSM, homophily facilitates the formation of relatively closed networks and thus efficient disease propagation. Little is known regarding the social psychological antecedents to racial homophily. However, one hypothesis that has emerged from HIV behavioral research posits that the experience of sexual objectification enacted by non-Black men, manifesting as a result of exposure to sexual stereotypes, may lead Black MSM to avoid partnering with those men (Newcomb et al., 2015). Integrating insights from psychology (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997) and queer theoretical perspectives (Teunis, 2007), the present study tested Newcomb’s Objectification-Homophily Hypothesis, examining the effects of race-based sexual objectification and observer race on partner selection via state self-objectification (SSO) among Black MSM on Grindr. Results suggest that objectification does impact partner selection via SSO in this sample. However, mediation through SSO was not a function of the interaction of racialized objectification and observer race, but rather of observer race across objectifying treatment. Further, this mechanism was observed only among Black MSM reporting high degrees of past-year racially homophilous partnering. Results suggest that objectification by non-Black men likely does not cause, but may maintain, racial homophily among Black MSM. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.

Major Advisor

Seth C. Kalichman

Available for download on Saturday, December 12, 2020

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