Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

A Gay-Friendly Public Service: Comparative Examination of the Impact of Intrinsic Psychological Orientations on the Attitudes of Public Servants toward Homosexuality

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

A Gay-Friendly Public Service: Comparative Examination of the Impact of Intrinsic Psychological Orientations on the Attitudes of Public Servants toward Homosexuality

Article excerpt

Introduction

Discrimination against individuals with nontraditional sexual orientations continues to be an issue in public administration and public policy (Colvin, 2000; Flanigan, 2013; Riccucci & Gossett, 1996). This article questions what drives the public servants to harbor prejudices against homosexuality? In particular, it investigates the influence of intrinsic psychological orientations on the perceptions of public servants of homosexuality. Scholars in public administration have long studied the impact of psychological factors on attitudes such as work motivation (Dcci & Ryan, 1985; Herzberg, 1964; Maslow, 1943; McGregor, 1960; Vandenabeele, 2007). Intrinsic psychological orientations arguably also manifest themselves in other areas of professional experience of public servants including attitudes toward individuals of marginalized groups (Freud, 1919/1949; LeDoux, 1996; Phelps et al., 2000; Stanisevski, 2011, 2015).

This article specifically incorporates a prominent typology of intrinsic motivational values, referred to in the article as intrinsic psychological orientations, developed by Shalom Schwartz (1994). Schwartz (1994) categorizes the intrinsic psychological orientations along two bipolar dimensions: (a) tendency toward or against change, which features openness to change as one extreme of the continuum and conservation as the other, and (b) tendency toward or away from oneself with self-enhancement as one extreme of the continuum and self-transcendence as the other. Within these bounds, Schwartz (1994) distinguishes 10 basic psychological orientations.

To answer the stated research question, the study first develops a Threshold Generalized Autoregressive Conditional Heteroscedasticity (TGARCH) model that examines the impact of Schwartz's psychological orientations on individual perceptions of homosexuality held by public servant respondents from 24 countries, collected by the World Values Survey (2014a, 2014b) Association in two waves between 2005 and 2014. Second, to strengthen the findings from the first model, an aggregate cross-country model is analyzed using an ordinary least squares (OLS) regression model. The study controls for common confounding factors, primarily extrinsic contributors such as demographic, cultural, and economic variables. The findings in the individual model demonstrate that intrinsic psychological orientations that facilitate openness to change (self-direction, hedonism) and self-transcendence (universalism) have positive impact, and intrinsic psychological orientations that emphasize conservation (security, conformity, tradition) and self-enhancement (achievement, economic power) have negative impact on the attitudes of public servants toward homosexuality. Extrinsic control variables are also highly significant.

While none of the examined psychological orientations, except achievement, show to be statistically significant on an aggregate level, cultural and economic extrinsic factors appear to be especially relevant in the second model. So, in the ancient debate between nature and nurture, or intrinsic psychology and extrinsic environment, the study demonstrates that when it comes to the attitudes toward homosexuality, it is really both.

The study concludes by drawing implications for public administration and public policy. In particular, the study recommends that to foster a positive atmosphere toward homosexuality in both external and internal environments of public organizations, something that is not only an ethical but often a legal requirement, public personnel administrators should build cultural openness that enables an individual expression and familiarization practices that reduce existential anxieties, which tend to be one of the root causes of discrimination.

Theoretical Model and Literature Review

There are few natural human characteristics that incite such widespread, and quite often emotionally visceral, opposition as homosexuality. …

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