From an evolutionary standpoint, it makes sense that males of a given species tend to be attracted to females and vice versa because this will encourage frequent reproduction and survival of the species. But if that’s the case, then why do same-sex attractions exist? This is a question that has long been of interest to scientists. In the video below, Dr. Alice Dreger breaks down some of the key things we’ve learned from the research so far.Read More
Pornhub’s annual year-in-review always offers tantalizing insights into what it is that turns people on—and last year’s review was no exception. I recently wrote about some of the top search results on the site and discussed the psychology behind them here. However, there was something else in last year’s Pornhub report that caught my eye that I thought deserved its own article: the fact that “straight guys” was the most-viewed category on Pornhub’s gay site.
What’s the deal with that?Read More
I spend a lot of time reading scientific journal articles as part of my job and, every now and then, I come across a paper that makes me say “WTF?” Case in point: in doing background research for a blog post about the effects of vasectomies on men’s sex lives a few weeks back, I stumbled onto a paper titled “Homosexual Behavior After Vasectomy.” It turned out to be a case report from 1980 about a man whose sexual orientation reportedly changed after he underwent a vasectomy.
Yep—you read that right. A vasectomy supposedly made him gay.Read More
Sexual orientation is something that many people consider to be an innate characteristic—it’s something you’re born with. This idea is popular within the LGBTQ community, and it’s something that has been used as a basis for arguing in favor of equal rights for sexual minorities. As the reasoning goes, if you’re “born this way,” then what basis is there for treating people differently based on their sexuality under the law?
There’s a problem with the “born this way” argument, though—actually, there are three problems, as Dr. Lisa Diamond explains in the TEDx video below: “First, it’s not scientifically accurate. Second, it’s not legally necessary. But third and most important, it’s actually unjust.”Read More
I surveyed more than 4,000 Americans about their sexual fantasies for my book Tell Me What You Want and I found that group sex was one of the most common things that turned people on, regardless of their gender and sexual orientation. While threesomes were the most popular form of group sex, they were just one of many kinds of group activities that people fantasized about.
In the book, I talk at length about why group sex is such a popular fantasy and what people’s general experiences are like sharing and acting on it. However, when you dig a little deeper into the data, it turns out that the way things go when people share and act on group sex fantasies differs depending upon their gender and sexual orientation. So let’s take a closer look at those results.Read More
What percentage of the United States population identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT)? A large, nationally representative survey conducted by Gallup in 2017 put the overall number at 4.5% of the U.S. population. This number is up a full percentage point from 2012, when it stood at 3.5%. This trend suggests that as the LGBT community has made more social and political gains--including nationwide marriage equality in 2015--more Americans have decided to come out.
The overall number is but one small part of the story here, however.Read More
Many women find man-on-man pornography to be sexually arousing. In fact, one of the world's biggest porn sites--Pornhub--has reported that gay male porn is the second most popular category among female visitors. Many of you may be wondering what it is that draws so many women to it. A recent study published in the journal Porn Studies offers some valuable insight.Read More
Sexual orientation is all too commonly viewed as an either/or proposition, meaning you’re either gay or you’re straight, and nothing in between. This view is widely held, even by many people within the LGBTQ community itself, as described in a recent set of studies published in the journal Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity.
Across two studies involving a total of 288 gay and lesbian participants, researchers examined attitudes toward and stereotypes of bisexuals. Here’s a brief review of their major findings:Read More
If you follow the news closely, you've probably noticed that, month after month, reports emerge about politically or religiously conservative men who find themselves embroiled in scandals in which they were caught having sex with other men. These events routinely make the news because the men involved tend to be outspoken opponents of LGBT+ rights who are caught engaging in hypocrisy.
So why does this keep happening? Why do so many conservative leaders wind up in these situations? Social psychological research offers a few potential explanations.Read More
Bisexuality continues to be a widely misunderstood sexual orientation. Given that this is LGBT Pride Month, I thought it would be useful to put together an article that explores some of the key findings that scientists have uncovered about bisexuality that can speak to some of the biggest misconceptions about it. Here goes:
1.) Bisexuality is real, and it’s not the same as being gay or lesbian. A lot of people deny the existence of bisexuality and assume that everyone who identifies as bisexual is secretly gay; however, the results of several studies reveal that bisexuality involves a distinct pattern of sexual interest and arousal compared to homosexuality.Read More
Over the past decade, there has been a dramatic change in support for same-sex marriage in the United States. Consider this: in 2007, the Pew Research Center conducted a national poll, which found that just 37% of Americans were in favor, while 54% were opposed. By contrast, this year’s poll found quite the reversal: nearly two-thirds (62%) are now in favor, with 32% opposed. This all-time high comes just two years after the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.Read More
In recognition of June being LGBT Pride Month, I'll be running several LGBT-themed posts on the blog over the next few weeks. To start us off, let's debunk some of the most common myths and misconceptions about sexual orientation.
1.) Homosexuality is contagious (i.e., you can "catch the gay"). Research has failed to find support for the idea that same sex attraction is transmitted through social contact. For example, a recent, large-scale study found that same-sex attraction does not spread within adolescent peer groups. Likewise, other research has found that gay parents are no more likely to raise gay children than their heterosexual counterparts.Read More
What percentage of the population is gay or bisexual? This is a surprisingly difficult question to answer because depending on the definition of sexual orientation you use—sexual identity, sexual attraction, or sexual behavior—you’ll come up with drastically different answers. For instance, in a recent nationally representative survey conducted in the United Kingdom, researchers found that about 2.5% of men and women reported an LGB identity; however, more than twice as many reported having had same-sex attractions and behaviors.
So why is that? Why is there often a discrepancy between someone’s sexual identity and their sexual behavior?Read More
The Netherlands is often seen as a utopia for people who are attracted to the same sex—and this view is perfectly understandable when you look at how homosexuality has historically been treated under the law. However, while homosexuality is something that has been accepted in the Netherlands far longer than in has in other parts of the world, this doesn’t mean that everyone in the Netherlands is accepting of sexual minorities or that sexual minorities here are immune from the effects of prejudice and discrimination.Read More
Sexual minority individuals—that is, people who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, or who otherwise report same-sex attraction or behavior—are at increased risk for developing a number of physical health problems relative to people who are exclusively heterosexual. As some evidence of this, consider a new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, which analyzed the health of sexual minorities in the United States using a nationally representative sample of more than 30,000 Americans .
No matter what measure of sexual orientation was utilized in this study (LGB identity, same-sex attraction, same-sex behavior), sexual minorities were at increased risk of various health problems compared to heterosexuals.Read More
In an episode of the classic television series Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw discovers that a guy she's seeing has dated both men and women. Uncomfortable with the thought of taking things further, she confides to her friends: “You know, I did the ‘date a bisexual guy’ thing in college, but in the end they all ended up with men…I’m not even sure bisexuality exists. I think it’s just a layover on the way to gaytown.”
Carrie expressed a belief that a lot of people in the real world hold, too—that all bisexual men are secretly gay and just aren’t quite ready to come out. However, the stereotype that all bisexual men are gays in disguise is, like Sex and the City, pure fiction (see here and here for scientific evidence that bisexuality is a distinct sexual orientation). That said, it turns out that there is some truth to the idea that bisexuality sometimes serves as a transitional sexual identity.Read More
People tend to think about sexual orientation in terms of a small number of distinct categories—most commonly, straight, bisexual, and gay. Those who subscribe to this view expect that everyone will fit neatly into one of these three boxes. However, others argue that sexual orientation is far more complex and is best viewed along a continuum or spectrum. The idea of a sexual orientation spectrum can be traced back to Alfred Kinsey, whose Kinsey Scale allowed for seven degrees of heterosexuality and homosexuality:Read More
How many people are lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB)? For one answer, check out the infographic below, which summarizes recent data from Britain's National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles. As you'll see, the researchers asked about sexual orientation in three different ways: sexual identity, sexual attraction, and sexual behavior--and each one yielded quite different numbers. It might be tempting to think that people's responses to these questions would line up, but they don't for several reasons including the fact that sexuality can be fluid and some people with same-sex attractions are uncomfortable with them and choose not to identify as a sexual minority.Read More
Sex scientists have a lot of tools to choose from when it comes to measuring people’s sexual orientation. However, every tool poses a unique set of challenges.
The most straightforward way to measure someone’s sexuality is simply to ask them who they’re attracted to or what their sexual identity label is. The downside to this method, of course, is that not everyone will answer honestly. For instance, studies have found that some heterosexual men who espouse homophobic views actually demonstrate strong genital arousal in response to gay porn, likely because they’re in denial about their sexuality. As the famous line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet goes, they “doth protest too much, methinks.”Read More
Psychologists have long known that gays and lesbians have an elevated risk of depression and anxiety compared to heterosexual individuals. This health disparity is thought to be due in large part to the chronic, high levels of stress faced by sexual minorities due to their stigmatized social status.
But what about bisexual persons? Do they face similar mental health disparities? Are they perhaps even worse off due to the fact that bisexuals often face prejudice from both the gay and heterosexual communities? Unfortunately, most research on the mental health of sexual minorities has lumped bisexuals together with gays and lesbians, making it difficult to determine exactly how bisexual individuals stack up relative to other groups. However, a new review paper published in the Journal of Sex Research offers some insight.Read More