In the first experiment, 27 male UCLA undergrads read one of two information sheets about their male co-worker: one version said their co-worker “was an interior design major from San Francisco who enjoyed cooking and dancing” and the other included mention of a boyfriend named Josh. The participant then sat down with his co-worker to complete a math test. Taking each participant’s SAT math score in consideration, researchers found “participants paired with an openly gay partner correctly answered significantly more questions on the math test than participants paired with an ambiguously gay partner.”
The second experiment was identical to the first except that it had 25 male participants playing a Wii shooting game that required “a high degree of [cooperative] interaction.” Taking each participant’s prior Wii experience into account, researchers found yet again that “participants with an openly gay partner scored significantly higher than those with a sexually ambiguous partner.”
Thus, being openly gay will at least help improve your co-workers’ math and video game skills if not their ability to do other cooperative work tasks. This is important especially considering the arguments against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell that claim openly gay soldiers will negatively impact a troops’ ability to work together.
But keep in mind that the students in this study had a “relatively low level” of homophobia. So these results could well change with actively hostile anti-gay coworkers. Though we assume that openly gay employees with accepting work environments probably perform better overall and experience less stress than their closeted or bullied gay counterparts.
So if you come out at work, print out this article, show it to your boss, and ask for a raise for having just improved the workplace performance of everyone in the building.
Image via Shawn Hitchins