The Riddle scale (also known as Riddle homophobia scale or Riddle scale of homophobia) was a psychometric scale that measured the degree to which a person is or is not homophobic. The scale was frequently used in tolerance education about anti-discriminatory attitudes regarding sexual orientation. It is named after its creator, psychologist Dorothy Riddle.


The Riddle homophobia scale was developed by Dorothy Riddle in 1973–74 while she was overseeing research for the American Psychological Association Task Force on Gays and Lesbians.[1] The scale was distributed at talks and workshops but was not formally published for a long time; it is cited in the literature either as an (unpublished) conference presentation from 1985[2] or as an article from 1994.[3] At the time it was developed, Riddle's analysis was one of the first modern classifications of attitudes towards homosexuality.[citation needed]

In that respect, the scale has served the purpose that Riddle originally had in mind: she devised the scale to explicate the continuum of attitudes toward gays and lesbians and to assess the current and desired institutional culture of an organization or a work place.[4]

Level of measurement

The Riddle scale is an eight-term uni-dimensional Likert-type interval scale with nominal labels and no explicit zero point. Each term is associated with a set of attributes and beliefs; individuals are assigned a position on the scale based on the attributes they exhibit and beliefs they hold.

The scale is frequently divided into two parts, the 'homophobic levels of attitude' (first four terms) and the 'positive levels of attitude' (last four terms).[5]

The scale


Riddle's analysis has been credited for pointing out that although 'tolerance' and 'acceptance' can be seen as positive attitudes, they should actually be treated as negative because they can mask underlying fear or hatred (somebody can tolerate a baby crying on an airplane while at the same time wishing that it would stop) or indicate that there is indeed something that we need to accept, and that we are the ones with the power to reject or to accept.[6][7] This observation generalizes to attitude evaluations in other areas besides sexual orientation and is one of the strengths of Riddle's study.

Although it deals mostly with adult attitudes towards difference, the model has been positioned in the cognitive developmental tradition of Piaget and Kohlberg's stages of moral development.[8]

As a psychometric scale, the Riddle scale has been considered to have acceptable face validity but its exact psychometric properties are unknown.[9][10]

See also


  1. ^ Staten Island LGBT history Staten Island LGBT Community Center, Accessed Dec. 19, 2010.
  2. ^ Riddle, D. I. (1985). Homophobia scale. Opening doors to understanding and acceptance: A facilitator’s guide for presenting workshops on lesbian and gay issues, Workshop organized by Kathy Obear and Amy Reynolds, Boston. Unpublished essay.
  3. ^ Riddle, D., (1994). The Riddle scale. Alone no more: Developing a school support system for gay, lesbian and bisexual youth. St Paul: Minnesota State Department.
  4. ^ Peterkin, A. Risdon, C., (2003). Caring for lesbian and gay people: A clinical guide. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, Inc.
  5. ^ Clauss-Ehlers, C. S. (ed), (2010). Encyclopedia of Cross-Cultural School Psychology. New York: Springer.
  6. ^ Blumenfeld W. J. (2000). How homophobia hurts everyone. Readings for diversity and social justice. New York: Routledge, 267–275.
  7. ^ Ollis, D., (2004). I’m just a home economics teacher. Does discipline background impact on teachers’ ability to affirm and include gender and sexual diversity in secondary school health education programs? AARE Conference, Melbourne 2004
  8. ^ Hirscheld, S., (2001). Moving beyond the safety zone: A staff development approach to anti-heterosexist education. Fordham Urban Law Journal, 29, 611–641.
  9. ^ Finkel, M. J., Storaasli, R. D., Bandele, A., and Schaefer, V., (2003). Diversity training in graduate school: An exploratory evaluation of the safe zone project. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 34, 555–561.
  10. ^ Tucker, E. W, and Potocky-Tripodi, M., (2006). Changing heterosexuals' attitudes toward homosexuals: A systematic review of the empirical literature. Research on Social Work Practice, 16 (2), 176–190.