CORRELATION OF PERSONALITY, AGE AND PARENTAL MARITAL STATUS ON PERCEPTION ON HOMOSEXUALITY AMONG UNDERGRADUATE
This study investigated the influence of personality, age and parental marital status on perception towards homosexuality. Two hundred and twenty two (222) Comprises of (106 males and 116 females) Five Institutions: ABSU, ANSU, EBSU, IMSU and ESUT were used as participants. Participants age ranged from 18-30 years with means age of 27.74 years. Five factor personality Traits-short form (FFPT – sf) scale containing 5 items was use to assesses students personality traits. The adapted Home Affairs Bureau HAB (2006) Survey scale containing 10 items was used to assess students perceptions toward homosexuality. A 2 x 2 x2 factorial design was adopted and a three way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to test the hypotheses. Results showed a non significant influence of personality on perception towards homosexuality. There was a significant influence of age on perception towards homosexuality. Those in old age were better of homosexuality than those in young age. Result also showed a significant marital status influence on homosexuality married participants performed better than single participants. The only significant interaction influence was that of personality x marital status. Results were discussed and suggestion for further studies stated.
Background to the Study
Homosexuality has been described as a sexual orientation in which individuals seek and enjoy sexual relations with members of their own sex (Baron, 1998). Seeking and enjoying sex with one of own gender, appears to run contrary to the course of nature; because this was not so at the time of creation. A very pertinent question here will therefore be, at what point in the history of man then did this sexual orientation creep into his consciousness? And what generated such traits in the first culprits in creation? To address these questions, there may be the need to trace the development of man from creation. The Scriptures record the account of how “in the beginning …. ” God created man ‘‘… male and female …. ” and charged them to be “…fruitful and multiply…” . This divine charge conveys the notion of both the man and woman coming together to, among others, procreate and raise offspring of their species.
Raising children by this first couple in creation, would necessarily involve some conjugal interactions between both parties – Adam and Eve. And as the Scriptures further recorded, “Adam lay with his wife… and she conceived and gave birth to Cain (Int’1 KJV, Gen. 4:l); and Abel (Int’l KJV, Gen. 4:2)”. Upon Cain’s murder of Abel, Cain married, laid with his wife, she conceived and gave birth to Enoch (Gen. 4:16). In this manner, in line with that divine charge of ‘‘… be fruitful and multiply…”, the course of procreation received impetus among mankind.
In virtually all the accounts recorded, it was always a man “being” with a woman in the marital relationship pursuant to the propagation of procreation. This was the naturally known and approved modality of sexual interaction. However, strange patterns of sexual orientation were soon observed as the Scriptures recorded in which, instead of the traditional man-woman sexual liaison, man-man (Int’l KJV, Gen.19: 5); as well as woman-woman sexual engagements (Int’l KJV, Romans 1:27) debuted among mankind. All through primordial times to date, this practice of male-male and female-female sexual relationships have continued to establish and consolidate its roots in societies, cultures, and households; not minding the divine admonition that “you shall not lie with a man as with a woman…” (Int’1 KJV, Leviticus 18:22).
This issue of same-sex relationships has therefore engaged the attention of researchers as well as other concerned individuals in society, particularly on accounts of its profound impacts on the moral fabrics of communities, as well as on the traditional and sociological foundations of societies (Greenspan & Campbell, 1945; Green, 1978). Early research efforts consistently show that attitudes towards homosexuality have generally tended to be negative (Louderback & Whitley Jr., 1997); and this prejudice has been distinct and well documented in several research works (Herek, 1984, 1986; Herek 1991; Herek & Glunt, 1993; Herek & Capitanio, 1996).
Although researchers (Roger, 1977; Bandura, 1977) have severally implicated heredity, biological bases and social learning, the original causalities are yet to be satisfactorily established; and therefore research efforts remain on-going. It is believed to be a serious problem the root causes of which must be painstakingly investigated, identified, and expunged from the psyche and sociology of mankind. However, the varying levels of individuality and liberalization of opinions across cultures would appear to come on the way of such moves (Loftus, 2001; Werum & Winders, 2001). A great number of societies in the West for instance, especially in their Rights Advocacy campaigns, have been quite vocal about the inalienable rights of persons to their individualities (Broolis, 2000) – including their sexualities. On a general note however, perceptions and attitudes toward homosexuality have been pervasively negative (Fone, 2000).
In most societies of the world today, there are many views on a person’s sexual preference (Rouse, 2002); and attitudes toward homosexuality are quite complex (Davies, 2004; Medley, 2005). Although prejudice against lesbians and gay men is widespread in the American society for instance (Herek, 2000; Whitley & Aegisdottir, 2000), such perceptions have become less negative over the past 30 years, especially with the increasing liberalization of opinions of the American public.
While many observers elsewhere have expressed their appreciation of the rights of societies – particularly the West and their allies – to their choices and preferences, they have also argued that other less sophisticated cultures should be free to stand up against the encroachment of perceived sexual depravities. lt is expected that these less sophisticated cultures should equally be entitled to their rights to uphold and preserve the broad ramifications of their own cultural heritage. Certainly, it remains incontrovertible that in plural communities’ where individual differences exist, along with the rising levels of anonymity in societies, it would be exceedingly difficult to get a reasonable convergence of opinions on issues of sexual orientation- mutual accommodation has been proffered as the guiding philosophy (Atkinson, 2002).
Views or dispositions toward homosexuality are believed to be influenced by a number of factors. A key factor contributory to, or predictive of perceptions toward sexual orientations is personality (Shackelford & Besser, 2007). Personality tends to predispose individuals to form particular kinds of perceptions and attitudes toward homosexuality (Haslam & Levy, 2006).
Personality is comprised of a collection of enduring traits that persist over time and situation; and bear strong relevance in social situations (Heaven & St. Quintin, 2003). In accordance with the “Big Five” Model, five personality traits are identifiable in individuals: Extraversion; Agreeableness; Conscientiousness; Emotional Stability; and Openness to experience, Extraversion represents the tendency to be sociable and experience positive affect. Agreeableness represents the tendency to be interpersonally pleasant. Conscientiousness reflects such characteristics as being dependable, responsible, and orderly. Emotional Stability represents the tendency to be emotionally even. Openness to Experience reflects an attraction toward unconventional Values, sensitivity, and need for variety. Different perceptions and attitude tend to characterize individuals’ status on certain dimensions of this construct. While individuals high on extraversion may have high negative perceptions about homosexuality, individuals high on openness to experience may display a relatively positive perceptions and attitudes.
Apart from personality, the factor of age also influences perceptions toward homosexuality (Shackelford & Besser, 2007). The age of the individual provides some insights to his level of life experience, maturity of mind, and to a large extent, his capacity for profound reflection and independent decision. These attributes are often brought to bear on the perceptual process involving expressible dispositions toward objects, events, or phenomena. The age variable could be categorized along early puberty, middle/late puberty, and full adulthood; although other categorizations exist. Nonetheless, young people generally, tend to hold less hostile perceptions toward homosexuality than older individuals (Bezen & Zicklin, 2007).
Although personality and age of individuals are key correlates of individuals’ perceptions toward homosexuality, a better understanding of the perceptual outcomes can be gleaned by also examining their parents’ marital statuses. Parents can either be married; divorced; widowed; or single. Children of married parents, whose homes are stable, tend to enjoy parental guidance, love and affection. Such children therefore grow up with the needed psychological and emotional stability to confront their life challenges; and this tends to influence the quality of their perceptual processes.
When children are raise in homes where the parents are separated, especially at early puberty, they tend to be perpetually troubled; haphazardly apportioning blames to either parents for the marital breakdown. They tend to live a life of indecision; their socialization processes are stunted; and their articulacy tends to be diminished. Upon divorce, affected children show poor performances in school compared to children from intact families (Kaye l98A9). Such children generally exhibit inappropriate behaviours, poor work effort, low levels of happiness and lowered self-esteem (Guidubaldi & Perry 1985; Slater, Stewart & Linn, 1983).
Children raised by parents under Widowhood, especially if the family breadwinner is the one lost, the mother, left with little or no support, may have to raise the children all alone – depending on the supportiveness of family relations – with the meager resources available. Such children are likely to feel traumatized, especially having to watch their mother singlehandedly go through all the pains to raise funds for their upkeep. Such separations by death are often associated with deficits in social and emotional functioning (Krantz 1988). For such children, life tends to be one of gloom and rejection; and those experiences may cumulatively influence their perceptions and attitude toward the events around them.
Some children also grow up under single-parenthood. Research has shown for example that two in five children in families headed by single women (39.7 percent) in the U.S. were poor compared to only 8.1 percent of children in married families (U.S. Census Bureau 2000). Although the statistics may not be exactly the same in Nigeria, with the world fast becoming a global village, such trends may not take too long to begin to manifest in many societies in Nigeria. It is generally believed, especially in African societies, that single parents got themselves into the family way outside formal marital engagement, as a result of their promiscuous lifestyles; and they tend to be viewed with disdain. “
Consequently, little or no support is extended to such parents by society members. For such parents to be able to continue to fend for their children, they may have to engage in many extra jobs – no matter how menial. Occasionally too, they seek out sexual companionships, largely for financial reasons, to be able to raise the funds to sustain the upkeep of their children. Offspring of such homes tend to grow up and develop questionable attitudes to life events and phenomena. They often have to contend with problems of personal adjustments, societal indignation, and sexual relations; with the likely consequences of such social problems as alcohol and drug use, adolescent pregnancy, and possibly, juvenile delinquency (Lang & Zagorsky, 2000).
The above scenario can be explained from the perspective of How Marriage Increases Economic Well-Being; and Emotional Health. Marriage makes families better off partly by allowing for the sharing of economic and social resources in the union which yields economies of scale and provides for risk-sharing protection against unexpected events (Oppenheimer 2000). Actual levels of economic well-being in parental households are largely determined by the combined earnings of the parents. The mutuality of financial assistance between the couples tends to help them invest appropriately in their children as they happily watch their children grow up as expected. This ultimately impacts some emotional health not just on the children, but also on the parents (Waite & Gallagher 2000).
Statement of the Problem
Generally speaking, the adverse effects of inappropriate sexual orientation, as well as unrestrained sexual behavioural expressions have been pervasive in many communities of the world. Many marriages have been ruptured; divorce cases are on the increase; and offspring have had to put up with pains and psychological trauma arising from sneers and taunts from peers. In Nigeria, it is actually believed that these general Western trends are gradually taking roots in many of its communities; and it appears to be receiving prominence among University undergraduates as well as students of other higher institutions.
Upon leaving their homes, where attention of their parents and siblings are far- removed, the newly-found freedom, coupled with peer influences, tend to provide fresh students with the opportunities of exploring, among others, sexualities that may have hitherto remained latent in them. Those with innate dispositions toward homosexuality or lesbianism soon get drawn into the vortex of the practice, through subtle seduction and allied approaches by the older students already involved in the act. But because the campus is a microcosm of the larger society, these students tend to engage in those acts with tremendous caution; to avoid possible negative consequences of the discovery by other heterosexual colleagues.
Identified homosexuals tend to go through a variety of unpleasant experiences among peers in school. If for instance the identified homosexual is not able to get accommodation for himself he tends to be denied the opportunity of sharing a room with any other student – except he is able to find one with similarity of sexual orientation. Even at that, the fear of being both labeled, may trigger refusal from the student trying to offer assistance. A student holding a position in school – a Class Rep for instance – enjoys some respect and privileges. The respect and privileges that used to be accorded that student, may begin to diminish, the day it is suspected and established that he or she is a homosexual or lesbian. Even outside the campus; if the identified homosexual/lesbian runs into trouble with his/her landlord for instance, because of the negative perceptions people hold against him/her on account of his/her sexual orientation, chances are that not much support will be extended to him/her – even if it is a case of outright oppression on the part of the landlord. These outcomes tend to undermine the student’s capacity to effectively socialize among peers and to perform well in their studies. He/she consequently feels unwanted; and may therefore be prone to revolting against a perceived hostile, intolerant, and unaccommodating society. A surge in the population of such individuals is a valid source of problem; not just to the academic community, but more seriously too, to the larger society where upon graduation, these students will return. This is part of the problem this research intends to address.
Purpose of the Study
Apart from contributing to the existing body of literature in this domain of knowledge, this study aims to investigate the extent of correlation of students’ personality traits, their ages, and their parental marital status on the perceptions they hold toward homosexual orientation. More specifically, this study intends to determine the extent of implication of the dimensions of the Independent Variables – personality, age, and parental marital status ~ in the overall nature and strength of the respective correlations obtained. Also, this research seeks to identify and avail further insights inherent in the findings of this work.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Perceptions generally are of particular importance in man’s day-to-day interaction, decision-making, attitudinal orientation as well as behavioural manifestations. The perceptions students hold toward homosexuality therefore will somehow impact these and other dimensions of their sociologies within the school, and in the society at large. This study has chosen to examine certain factors – student’ personality traits; ages; and parental marital statuses – believed to have some influence on their perceptions toward homosexuality.
This is of immense significance because getting to establish the extent of implications of these factors will be of strong utilitarian values to Counselors, Parents, and relevant others in society. Family Heads and custodians of our cultural values are thereby better able to, at an early stage in the lives of their children and wards, identify tendencies toward unacceptable sexual orientations, and would subsequently be able to deploy necessary adjustment programmes to check such inclinations.
The implication of such early intervention is to avoid the creeping in of such offensive sexual orientations at the formative ages which may become progressively entrenched through adolescence and adulthood; and hence more difficult to check. To be able to reasonably guarantee and sustain the sanctity of the traditional mores and values of Nigerian societies, these students, who are expected to be the future leaders, must therefore be protected from the perversions that may be inherent in unrestrained freedoms of sexuality.
Operational Definition of Terms
Personality: This is the individual’s unique and stable patterns of behaviours, thoughts, and feelings. Personality in this study was investigated along the dimensions of Conscientiousness; Agreeableness; Emotional Stability; Extraversion; and Openness to Experience using the adopted FFM Scale (Baron, 1998) named Five Factor Personalily Traits Short-Form (FFPT-SF ) Scale. Scores below 15 on the adopted FFPT Scale implies an overall low standing on personality measure. Scores above 3 on each of the five items of the Scale will indicate high standing on each of the component traits.
Age: This represents the length of time a person has lived. For this research, the factor of age was studied along three dimensions: Early Adolescence (13 – 17 yrs); Middle/Late Adolescence (18 – 22 yrs); and Early Adulthood (23 – 40 yrs).
Parental Marital Status: This gives an indication of extent of continued sustenance of parental union. For this study, Parental Marital Status was investigated along four dimensions of Married; Divorced; Widowed; and Single-Parenthood.
Perception: This refers to the process through which people receive, organize, and give interpretations to information from their environment.
Homosexuality: This refers to the practice of seeking and enjoying romantic or sexual intercourse with another person of the same sex. For this study, perceptions toward homosexuality were investigated using the Adapted Home Affairs Bureau, HBA (2006) Scale used to measure Attitude toward Homosexuality in China. Scores on the Scale below 30 indicate positive or less hostile perceptions toward homosexuality; while scores above 30 reflect negative perceptions toward homosexuality.
Sexual orientation: This refers to an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, or both sexes.
Undergraduates: These are students in universities studying for their first degree programmes.
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