New research has provided evidence that systematic biases exist in how we perceive female and male bisexuality. Researchers found that bisexual men were more likely to be viewed as being attracted to men more than women, while the same was not true for bisexual women. They were viewed as being equally attracted to men and women.
Published in the European Journal of Social Psychology earlier this year, the study’s authors write that the findings, “add to the understanding of the unique bias bisexual people face by showing that perceived attraction patterns may underlie the labelling of bisexual men as ‘actually gay.’
An analysis conducted by the research team also found that heterosexual, lesbian, and gay participants all perceived bisexual men as more attracted to men than to women.
“My research interests usually come from something I observe in real life and that was the case here, too. I’m part of the LGBTQ+ community myself and so are a lot of my friends and one thing I noticed often was that people often don’t believe that bisexual people are actually bisexual,” explained the study’s lead author Thekla Morgenroth, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Exeter and incoming assistant professor of psychology at Purdue University.
They told PsyPost, “There is also research to back this up, showing that bisexual people are stereotyped as confused or that bisexuality is not a real sexual identity. What I found particularly interesting, however, was that this denial of bisexual identities seemed to take different forms for women and men. (I should say here that there are of course also non-binary bisexual people but for the purpose of this study, we just focused on women and men.)”
Morgenroth said that when a woman identifies as bisexual, people think they are actually straight and “maybe experimenting a little bit.” However, when a man identifies as bisexual people believe he just hasn’t come out as gay.
They explained that in both cases people are prone to think bisexual people are more attracted to men.
The study involved 787 participants who told the research was examining online dating. The participants were shown a profile of a person who identified as bisexual. The viewer indicated if the person profiled favored men or women more.
“One surprising finding was that we didn’t find evidence for erasure of female bisexuality,” Morgenroth told PsyPost. “That might be an indication that female bisexuality is more accepted, but it’s important to keep in mind that this might also just be a reflection of our specific methodology.
A limitation to the study, according to Morgenroth, was that the researchers couldn’t explain why bisexual men were thought to be more attracted to men than women.