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Recently, Rios (2013) argued that compared to the label “gay men and lesbians,” the label “homosexuals” suggests greater social deviance and psychological essentialism of the social category. In two studies, Rios found that right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) predicted prejudice against “homosexuals” but not “gay men and lesbians,” and that this effect was mediated by perceived symbolic threat (Study 1, N = 62) and perceived essentialism (discreteness) of the social category (Study 2, N = 102). Further, these effects were robust to the effects of social dominance orientation (SDO). In this project we aimed to replicate Rios' findings. **Abstract of paper** Two recent experiments found evidence for what we term the social category label (SCL) effect—that the relationship between right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) and prejudice against gay men and lesbians can be reduced or even eliminated when the target group is labeled “gay men and lesbians” rather than “homosexuals” (Rios, 2013). Although this appears a promising approach to reduce self-reported sexual prejudice, with both theoretical implications for the meaning of RWA itself and practical implications for question wording for assessing these attitudes, there are several reasons to further examine these findings, including a) inconsistencies with extant evidence, b) small sample sizes in the original two experiments, and c) concerns with the RWA measures used in the two experiments. We tested the SCL hypothesis with a nationally representative sample (Study 1) and close and conceptual replications of Rios’ (2013) two studies (Studies 2 – 5) using multiple measures of RWA and prejudice. Across 23 tests of the SCL hypothesis, we obtained one statistically significant and one marginally significant effect consistent with the hypothesis, two significant effects opposite the hypothesis, and 19 non-significant effects. A meta-analysis of evidence reported here and in Rios (2013) indicates that RWA strongly predicts anti-gay prejudice, with no significant variation by label. This confirms that typically robust association between RWA and anti-gay prejudice and confirms that the SCL is not robust. We discuss potential limitations of these studies, theoretical, methodological, and practical implications for our failures to replicate the original SCL studies, and future directions for examining social category label effects.
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