First, here is the reference: Is Homophobia Associated With Homosexual Arousal? by Henry E. Adams, Ph.D., Lester W. Wright, Jr., Ph.D. and Bethany A. Lohr, in Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol. 105, No. 3, pp 440-445. Link
Psychoanalytic theory holds that homophobia --the fear, anxiety, anger, discomfort and aversion that some ostensibly heterosexual people hold for gay individuals -- is the result of repressed homosexual urges that the person is either unaware of or denies. A study appearing in the August issue of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association (APA), provides new empirical evidence that is consistent with that theory.
Researchers at the University of Georgia conducted an experiment involving 35 homophobic men and 29 non-homophobic men as measured by the Index of Homophobia scale. All the participants selected for the study described themselves as exclusively heterosexual both in terms of sexual arousal and experience.
Each participant was exposed to sexually explicit erotic stimuli consisting of heterosexual, male homosexual and lesbian videotapes (but not necessarily in that order). Their degree of sexual arousal was measured by penile plethysmography, which precisely measures and records male tumescence.
Men in both groups were aroused by about the same degree by the video depicting heterosexual sexual behavior and by the video showing two women engaged in sexual behavior. The only significant difference in degree of arousal between the two groups occurred when they viewed the video depicting male homosexual sex: "The homophobic men showed a significant increase in penile circumference to the male homosexual video, but the control [non-homophobic] men did not."
Broken down further, the measurements showed that while 66% of the non-homophobic group showed no significant tumescence while watching the male homosexual video, only 20% of the homophobic men showed little or no evidence of arousal. Similarly, while 24% of the non-homophobic men showed definite tumescence while watching the homosexual video, 54% of the homophobic men did.
When asked to give their own subjective assessment of the degree to which they were aroused by watching each of the three videos, men in both groups gave answers that tracked fairly closely with the results of the objective physiological measurement, with one exception: the homophobic men significantly underestimated their degree of arousal by the male homosexual video.
Do these findings mean, then, that homophobia in men is a reaction to repressed homosexual urges, as psychoanalysis theorizes? While their findings are consistent with that theory, the authors note that there is another, competing theoretical explanation: anxiety. According to this theory, viewing the male homosexual videotape may have caused negative emotions (such as anxiety) in the homophobic men, but not in the non-homophobic men. As the authors note, "anxiety has been shown to enhance arousal and erection," and so it is also possible that "a response to homosexual stimuli [in these men] is a function of the threat condition rather than sexual arousal per se. These competing notions can and should be evaluated by future research."
Interesting theory - and keep in mind, its just a theory.
Whether arousal or anxiety (or both), further studies are needed.
The saying - "you hate the ones you love" have some peculiar significance here. For example - lets use the psychology of Children since they are a great source of unbias study. Go back to the schoolyard during recess, do you ever recall seeing a boy teasing a specific girl on the playground? Its always one specific girl, he targets her, follows her - teasing, chanting, even bullying. Whether playfully or agressively - its constant, annoying and unceasing.
When the teacher stops the boy and questions him, the teacher finds out that the boy is actually attracted to the girl but does not have a clue on how to respond to his emotions. He reacts in the only way he knows how - to tease, to bother and to basically, draw attention.
Well, this study by the APA reminds me of the playground teasing.
Maybe one day, scientist will discover the cause of homophobia and help those who exhibit this condition to understand its nature and origin.