The Attitudes Toward Lesbians and Gay Men Scale
The Attitudes Toward Lesbians and Gay Men (ATLG)
Scale is a brief measure of heterosexuals’ attitudes toward
gay men and lesbians.
The original scale consisted of 20 different statements, 10 about gay men (ATG subscale) and 10 about lesbians (ATL subscale), to which respondents indicated their level of agreement or disagreement.
Shorter versions have subsequently been developed, consisting of ATG and ATL subscales with parallel versions of 3, 4, or 5 items.
These shorter versions have been found to be highly correlated with the original, longer subscales (e.g., rs > .95 between 5-item versions of the ATG and ATL and their 10-item counterparts), and their use is now recommended instead of the original subscales.
The ATLG can be self-administered (presented on paper or on a computer) or administered orally (as in a telephone survey). When presented visually, scale items are typically accompanied by a 5-, 7-, or 9-point Likert-type scale with anchor points of Strongly Disagree and Strongly Agree.
When administered orally during telephone or face-to-face interviews, four response options are usually offered (Strongly Disagree, Disagree Somewhat, Agree Somewhat, Strongly Agree), and respondents are allowed to volunteer a middle response (e.g., "Neither Agree nor Disagree").
If labeling of each response point is desired, it is recommended that a 4- or 5-point scale be used with the following labels:
For college-educated respondents, each item requires roughly 30-60 seconds.
Scoring is accomplished by summing numerical values (e.g., 1 =
strongly disagree, 9 = strongly agree)
across items for each subscale. Reverse scoring is used for some
For ease of interpretation, the sum of item values can be divided by the total number of items to yield a score that matches the response scale metric.
The possible range of scores depends on the response scale used.
Scores on the original ATL and ATG subscales, which are based on responses to differently worded items, were not directly comparable. Researchers wishing to compare respondents’ attitudes toward gay men with their attitudes toward lesbians were advised to use parallel forms of one subscale (usually the ATG items).
The use of such parallel forms (with each item presented once in reference to gay men and once in reference to lesbians) is now recommended for all ATLG scale users.
Reliability and Validity
The ATLG subscales have high levels of internal consistency.
When self-administered, alpha > .85 with most college
student samples and alpha > .80 with most nonstudent adult
For telephone surveys with oral administration to adult samples, alpha > .80 for 5-item versions and alpha > .70
for 3-item versions.
Test-retest reliability (rs > .80) has been demonstrated with alternate forms (Herek, 1988, 1994).
Scores on the ATLG subscales are reliably correlated with other theoretically relevant constructs (e.g., Herek, 1994, 2009; Herek & Capitanio, 1996, 1999a, 1999b).
Higher scores are associated with high religiosity, lack of interpersonal contact with gay men and lesbians, adherence to traditional gender-role attitudes, belief in a traditional family ideology, and endorsement of policies that discriminate against sexual minorities.
In addition, ATG scores are reliably correlated with AIDS-related stigma in the United States.
The ATLG's discriminant validity also has been established.
Members of lesbian and gay organizations scored at the extreme positive end of the range, and nonstudent adults who publicly supported a gay rights ballot measure scored significantly lower on the ATLG than did community residents who publicly opposed the initiative (Herek, 1988, 1994).
Administration in Other Languages and Outside the United States
The ATLG was developed for administration to English-speaking adult heterosexuals in the United States.
It has also been used in research conducted in England (Hegarty, 2002) and Canada (Mohipp & Morry, 2004), and translated versions have been administered in the Netherlands (Meerendonk, Eisinga, & Felling, 2003), Singapore (Detenber et al., 2007), Brazil (DeSouza,
Solberg, & Elder, 2007), Chile (Cardenas & Barrientos, 2008; Nierman, Thompson, Bryan, & Mahaffey, 2007), and Turkey (Gelbal & Duyan, 2006).
In addition, a Spanish-language version was created for a study of California adults of Mexican descent (Herek & Gonzalez-Rivera, 2006).
In these studies, scale reliability has been consistently acceptable (typically, alpha > .80), and the patterns of correlations
between ATLG scores and theoretically related constructs have been similar to those obtained with U.S. English-speaking samples.
For a more thorough discussion of the ATLG's development and usage,
and item and scale scores for various samples, see Herek (1994,
1998; Herek & McLemore, 2011).
Doctoral-level social and behavioral scientists, as well as students and researchers working under their supervision, may use the
ATLG in not-for-profit research that is consistent with the American
Psychological Association's Ethical Principles of Psychologists.
It is not necessary to obtain formal permission from Dr. Herek to use the scale in research that meets these conditions, and such permissions are not provided, even upon request.
Permission to use the scale is explicitly denied to individuals who have been expelled or dropped from membership in a professional or scientific association because of their violation of the organization's ethical standards.
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Detenber, B., Cenite, M., Ku, M., Ong, C., Tong, H., & Yeow, M. (2007). Singaporeans’ attitudes toward lesbians and gay men and their tolerance of media portrayals of homosexuality. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 19, 367–379.
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Attitudes toward lesbians and gay men: A factor analytic study.
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Religion and prejudice: A comparison of racial and sexual attitudes.
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Heterosexuals' attitudes toward lesbians and gay men: Correlates and gender differences.
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Black heterosexuals' attitudes toward lesbians and gay men in the United States.
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Herek, G. M., & Gonzalez-Rivera, M. (2006). Attitudes toward homosexuality among U.S. residents of Mexican descent. Journal of Sex Research, 43, 122-135.
Herek, G. M., & McLemore, K. A. (2011). The Attitudes Toward Lesbians and Gay Men (ATLG) scale. In T. Fisher, C. M. Davis, W. L. Yarber & S. L. Davis (Eds.), Handbook of sexuality-related measures (3rd ed., pp. 415-417). Oxford, England: Taylor & Francis.
Meerendonk, B. van de, Eisinga, R., & Felling, A. (2003). Application of Herek’s Attitudes Toward Lesbians and Gay Men Scale in the Netherlands. Psychological Reports, 93, 265–275.
Mohipp, C., & Morry, M. (2004). The relationship of symbolic beliefs and prior contact to heterosexuals’ attitudes toward gay men and lesbian women. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 36, 36–44.
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