People who have negative feelings toward homosexuality often have secret attractions to the same sex -- and are more likely to have grown up in households that forbid homosexual feelings, according to a recent study.

A research team from the University of Rochester, the University of Essex, England, and the University of California in Santa Barbara found that "[h]omophobia is more pronounced in individuals with an unacknowledged attraction to the same sex and who grew up with authoritarian parents who forbade such desires."

"Individuals who identify as straight but in psychological tests show a strong attraction to the same sex may be threatened by gays and lesbians because homosexuals remind them of similar tendencies within themselves," the study's lead author, Netta Weinstein, explained.

"In many cases these are people who are at war with themselves and they are turning this internal conflict outward," co-author Richard Ryan added.

"We laugh at or make fun of such blatant hypocrisy, but in a real way, these people may often themselves be victims of repression and experience exaggerated feelings of threat," Ryan said. "Homophobia is not a laughing matter. It can sometimes have tragic consequences."

Details of the four separate experiments conducted by the research team will published in the April issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Watch this video from the University of Rochester, uploaded March 21, 2012.

Photo: Shutterstock

(h/t: International Business Times)