252 CHAPTER 9
an individual as lesbian, gay, or bisexual [or heterosexual] instead
of just curious, confused, or experimenting” (Diamond, 2008a,
pp. 26–27). As seen in Table 9.1, 3.5% of women and 1.1% of
men identify themselves as bisexual (Chandra et al., 2011). Even
when people consider themselves bisexual, their bisexuality is
often unknown to others because of the common assumption that
people are either straight or gay, based on the sex of their current
partner (Plato, 2008).
Research about bisexuality is quite limited, but what does the
available research tell us? One study of men indicated that sexual
arousal in self-identied bisexual men is associated with a unique
and specic pattern. e researchers measured the subjective—how
aroused they felt—and erectile responses of bisexual, homosexual,
and heterosexual men while they watched various sexual videos—
male–male, male–female, and a man having sex with both a woman
and another man. As anticipated, homosexual and heterosexual men
demonstrated arousal, respectively, to male–male videos and male–
female videos. Bisexual men were aroused by both gay and straight
videos, but their arousal by the video of a man engaging in sex with
both a man and a woman was signicantly higher than gay and straight men’s arousal by
the same video (Cerny & Janssen, 2011).
Several research studies have found that more women than men feel sexual attrac-
tion to both sexes (Lippa, 2006). Further, women who identify themselves as straight
or lesbian may actually experience a greater range of sexual attraction and arousal
than they are aware of. Laboratory research examined heterosexual and homosexual
men’s and women’s physical and subjective arousal patterns by having the subjects
watch movie clips of heterosexual, gay, and lesbian sexual encounters; a man mastur-
bating; a woman masturbating; and bonobo apes mating. While watching each clip,
subjects rated their subjective arousal on a keypad. Simultaneously, researchers mea-
sured women participants’ physical arousal with a tampon-sized device that monitored
increases in vaginal blood ow and resultant lubrication. Men wore an apparatus that
t on the penis and measured the degree of erection. e study found that women—
regardless of their self-identied sexual orientation—experienced varying degrees of
genital arousal in response to all of the video clips, including the mating bonobos.
However, the women said that they were aroused only while viewing sexual activity
that was compatible with their self-identied sexual orientation: Heterosexual women
said that they were aroused only by heterosexual clips, and lesbians only by clips of
women being sexual together or masturbating. In contrast, gay and straight men were
physically aroused by the clips that they said they found arousing. Further, what turned
men on was consistent with their sexual orientation. Gay men were aroused only by
male–male sexual interaction and straight men by male–female and female–female
material (Chivers et al., 2005).
Research with people who have high sex drives suggests further variability in the way
sexual orientation expresses itself. Data from more than 3,600 research subjects showed
that high sex drive in women who identied themselves as heterosexual was associated
with increased sexual attraction to both men and women. e higher a woman’s sex
drive, the more likely she was to feel sexual desire for both sexes. In contrast, high sex
drive in straight men, gay men, and lesbians was associated with increased sexual attrac-
tion only to one sex or the other. ese ndings are consistent across age groups and
have been replicated in many regions of the world, including Latin America, Australia,
India, and Western Europe (Lippa, 2006).
How do you account for the discrepancies
between subjective reports and physical
arousal in women? Do you think women
aren’t aware of their vaginal arousal
because it is internal and not as obvious as
an erection? Are they too uncomfortable
acknowledging that bonobo sex and gay sex
scenes turn them on? Or . . . ?
Critical Thinking Question
A recent study found that heterosexual and homosexual
women experienced genital arousal in response to video
clips of mating bonobos, but the women subjects reported
arousal only while viewing sexual activities that were
compatible with their self-identied sexual orientation.
Copyright 2012 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Due to electronic rights, some third party content may be suppressed from the eBook and/or eChapter(s).
Editorial review has deemed that any suppressed content does not materially affect the overall learning experience. Cengage Learning reserves the right to remove additional content at any time if subsequent rights restrictions require it.