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Student Presented Paper at Conference

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Posted on Thursday, May 17, 2007

Brett Turk, a junior psychology/human resources major from New Castle, and Dr. Jamie McMinn, Westminster College assistant professor of psychology, recently presented a paper titled "Understanding the Relationship Among Gender, Physical Attractiveness, and Sexual Orientation" at the Midwestern Psychological Association.

Turk, who is a son of Debra Turk, wrote: "Whether people think sexual orientation is fixed or changeable influences their interactions with homosexuals, and their beliefs may partially depend on physical attractiveness. In two experiments, we examined the effects of physical attractiveness on perceptions of how easily sexual orientation can change. In the first study, participants rated how likely two people would be to date each other, given that one was homosexual, one was heterosexual, and the homosexual's attractiveness varied. In the second study, participants read about either a homosexual man or a woman who was interested in conversion therapy, and this person's physical attractiveness varied. The overall results showed that female targets were generally perceived as less homosexual than were male targets, and homosexual targets were rated as unlikely to change their sexual orientation, either by dating a heterosexual or through therapy, regardless of their attractiveness. The implications of these findings and associated beliefs about the immutability of sexual orientation are discussed."

"My experience at the Midwestern Psychological Association Conference was very valuable. I learned about the newest paradigms in the field, networked with researchers, and gained insights into the graduate school application process," Turk said.

The annual Midwestern Psychological Association Conference was held in Chicago in May.

Contact McMinn at (724) 946-7121 or e-mail at for more information.