(CBS SF) — People with homophobic attitudes are more likely to have psychological issues including anger, hostility and aggression toward others, new research concludes.

A study published Sept. 8 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine assessed psychopathologic characteristics in the development of homophobia.

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Until now, many aspects of homophobic prejudice have been investigated, including religion, education and gender, but important psychological factors have still not been explained.

“The study is opening a new research avenue, where the real disease to study is homophobia,” lead researcher Emmanuele Jannin told Live Science.

The study evaluated 560 randomly selected Italian university students. About half were in a relationship and nearly all declared to be exclusively heterosexual.

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Researchers found the better the mental health of the person the less likely he or she was to be homophobic.

“We found that psychoticism represented an important risk factor for homophobia, demonstrating that pathologic personality traits are involved in homophobic attitudes,” the study’s authors wrote.

On the other hand, depression was linked with lower levels of homophobia.

The researchers are currently expanding the study to students in Albania, Jannini said.

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Nicole Jones is a digital producer for CBS San Francisco. Follow her musings @nicjonestweets