Researchers at the University of Kansas (KU) authored a new study examining media influence on views of homosexuality in China.
Jiawei Tu, former master's student at KU, and Tien-Tsung Lee, associate professor of journalism and Tu's thesis supervisor, surveyed more than 225 Chinese college students at universities in Beijing, Shanghai and Guiyang. Students were asked to rate how strongly they agreed or disagreed with statements about gay people as well as polled about their media consumption.
Researchers found that the more frequently people consume state-controlled media, the more negative their stereotypes toward homosexuals.
The study indicated the most negative stereotypes were homosexuals are not fit to serve in the military, are sensitive and lonely, have a strong need for security and are not fit for marriage. The most positive were that homosexuals are artistic or liking art and literature and intelligent or imaginative.
"What surprised me was, overall, the stereotypes were not that negative," Lee said. "There were stereotypes, but they were not as strongly held as we expected they might be."
The study also indicated people with more personal contact with homosexuals have less negative stereotypes and people from smaller, less populated hometowns tend to have more negative attitudes toward homosexuals.
"If [the respondents] know any gays or lesbians, then they probably have more positive attitudes toward homosexuals," said Lee.
Chinese people generally live in the same place where they grew up, with few people moving between the rural and urban areas.
"If you grew up in a small town or rural area, you have less exposure to homosexuality and homosexuals and you hold a stronger negative stereotype, which, I think, is pretty much the same in America." said Lee. "If you grew up in a remote area in say Kansas, for example, you probably don't have a lot of exposure to gay people and to gay culture, and because you don't know anything about it, you have negative attitudes toward them."