Shaping attitudes about homosexuality: The role of religion and cultural context

Elsevier, Social Science Research, Volume 38, Issue 2, June 2009, Pages 338-351.
Amy Adamczyk and Cassady Pitt.

Across the globe, the debate over homosexuality continues, with great variation in public opinion about the acceptability of homosexuality, laws regulating same-sex unions and penalties for homosexual sex behaviors. Religion is often seen as an important predictor of attitudes about homosexuality. However, cross-national differences in cultural orientations suggest that the role religion has in explaining homosexual attitudes may depend on a nation’s cultural context. In this study, we merge ideas from cultural sociology and religious contextual effects to explain cross-national variation in public opinion about homosexuality. Using data from the fourth wave of the World Values Survey and Hierarchical Modeling techniques, we find support for the micro and macro effects of religion and a survival vs. self-expressive cultural orientation. Moreover, we find that personal religious beliefs have a greater effect on attitudes about homosexuality in countries like the United States, which have a strong self-expressive cultural orientation.