Even before I got a chance to read the piece on the train ride home last night, I had no idea the NY Times Science section’s story entitled Straight, Gay or Lying? Bisexuality Revisited, would have caused the seams of e-mail’s inbox to bust apart with the outraged opinions of self-identified bisexuals. The findings & conclusions of a yet unpublished study in Psychological Science by a team of researchers in Chicago & Toronto are as follows:
[ul][li]The estimated 1.7 percent of men who identify themselves as bisexual show physical attraction patterns that differ substantially from their professed desires.Regardless of whether the men were gay, straight or bisexual, they showed about four times more arousal to one sex or the otherIn men there’s no hint that true bisexual arousal exists, and that for men arousal is orientationAlthough only a small number of women identify themselves as bisexual…bisexual arousal may for them in fact be the norm[/ul][/li][/quote]
Those conclusions were drawn using the following methodology:
[ol][li]Psychologists used advertisements in gay and alternative newspapers to recruit 101 young adult men.Thirty-three of the men identified themselves as bisexual, 30 as straight and 38 as homosexual.The researchers asked the men about their sexual desires and rated them on a scale from 0 to 6 on sexual orientation, with 0 to 1 indicating heterosexuality, and 5 to 6 indicating homosexuality. Bisexuality was measured by scores in the middle range.Seated alone in a laboratory room, the men then watched a series of erotic movies, some involving only women, others involving only men.Using a sensor to monitor sexual arousal, the researchers found[LIST=a]Gay men showed arousal to images of men and little arousal to images of womenHeterosexual men showed arousal to women but not to menBisexuals did not have patterns of arousal that were consistent with their stated attraction to men and to women. Instead, about three-quarters of the group had arousal patterns identical to those of gay men; the rest were indistinguishable from heterosexuals[/ol][/list][/li][/quote]
Though I’ll concede the point that laymen debating the findings or conclusions of an unreleased study based on one newpaper’s summary can be a trainwreck in the making, I think there are some interesting reactions and questions that do arise. Good science shouldn’t care who it offends and only seek truth, and based on some of the venomous sentiments I read in my afore mentioned e-mail box this morning, I can safely assume the study’s authors, at a minimum, succeeded in that
I have to admit, as I read those sentiments earlier today, my first reaction was, Thou dost protesteth too much. But as I give more thought to this specific study - and sexual research in general - at least two far more essential questions come to mind:Will we ever get past Kinsey’s ridiculous, sixty year old sheeps and goats analogies and sliding sexual arousal scales? Though I don’t buy into either the ‘everyone is bisexual’ or ‘no one is bisexual’ theories I often hear espoused, from my perspective, there as many unique sexuality types as there are people.
Sociology aside, what benefits result from group studies of human sexuality? How does categorizing individuals into groups productive? I fail to see how any study that attempts to pigeon-hole people into this segement or that has any relative value in the field of psychology.