Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Sharon S. Rostosky

Second Advisor

Dr. Ellen D. B. Riggle


Lesbian and gay college students face heterosexist and homophobic attitudes and behaviors from their heterosexual peers (Burn, 2000; Fine, 2011; Franklin, 2000; Rankin, 2003; Silverschanz, Cortina, Konik, & Magley, 2008; Woodford, Howell, Silverschanz, & Yu, 2012; & Yost & Gilmore, 2011). Greek fraternity and sorority organizations can contribute to and influence the heterosexist and homophobic climate on college campuses. Greek organizations offer leadership opportunities, community engagement, and a sense of belonging, but these organizations can also perpetuate a climate of hostility and rejection of lesbian and gay peers (Case, 1996; Case, Hesp, & Eberly, 2005; DeSantis, 2007; Rankin et al., 2007; Windmeyer, 2005; Windmeyer & Freeman, 1998, 2001). As a result of the prejudice seen on college campuses, prejudice reduction interventions have been conducted with college students to reduce prejudiced attitudes toward lesbian and gay individuals. Recent research indicates that reducing prejudice does not necessarily cultivate ally behaviors toward stigmatized outgroups (Pittinsky, 2012). Some research suggests that, compared to lower levels of prejudice, positive feelings (allophilia) toward minority groups better predict supportive behaviors toward those outgroups. Using an expanded positive-focused conceptual framework, the current study tested the impact of one empathic joy focused intervention and one values affirmation focused intervention on reducing prejudiced attitudes toward lesbians and gay men, cultivating positive feelings and attitudes toward lesbians and gay men, fostering lesbian and gay affirming social justice competency, and cultivating attitudes toward social justice in a sample of fraternity and sorority college student leaders (N = 106). The current study also compared the effectiveness of these two positive focused interventions to a traditional anti-heterosexism prejudice reduction intervention (e.g., Blumenfeld, 1992). Findings from this study illustrated significant pre-intervention to post-intervention changes within the empathic joy and the anti-heterosexism intervention groups on positive attitudes toward lesbians and gay men, positive behavioral intentions toward lesbians and gay men, and positive attitudes toward social justice. Implications of the research findings for future research on effective diversity training and social justice leadership development on college campuses, and particularly within Greek life, are discussed.