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. (This probably involves the release of cortisol which puts the individual in an "alert situation," which is the source of the "energy" that is created.)

When men see other men, the fight or flight mechanism is activated. This energy [nervous stimulation] 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 resultant behavior.

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 aggressively.

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.