Do beliefs about sexual orientation predict voting behavior? Results from the 2016 U.S. presidential election

Patrick R. Grzanka, Katharine H. Zeiders, Elliot S. Spengler, Lindsay T. Hoyt, Russell B. Toomey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Research has shown that beliefs about sexual orientation, including the naturalness, discreteness, and informativeness of sexual orientation categories, are associated with varying levels of sexual prejudice. Less is known about how these and other sexual orientation beliefs may correspond with broader social and political attitudes, including party affiliation and voting behavior. The present study explored voting intention and political party affiliation, as well as other constructs not directly associated with sexuality, among a sample of emerging adults (N = 286) immediately prior to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Using a person-centered statistical approach, we replicated sexual orientation belief profiles found in prior research and observed significant associations between belief profiles and intentions to vote for certain candidates, as well as party affiliation, ambivalent sexist attitudes, and number of reported lesbian, gay, and bisexual friends. Notably, "born this way"-type beliefs in the innateness and immutability of sexual orientation did not significantly distinguish respondents' support for presidential candidates or political party affiliation. We situate these results within existing research on essentialist beliefs and point to implications of these findings for ongoing research, clinical work, and advocacy for sexual minority rights.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-252
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Epistemology
  • Essentialism
  • Political psychology
  • Sexual orientation
  • Voting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Psychology(all)


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