Public Release: 

Study continues the debate on the nature of bisexual men

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

A study published in the current issue of Psychological Science investigates the controversy about whether bisexual men exist. In terms of behavior and identity, they clearly exist as there are men who have sex with both men and women. Upon measuring genital, as well as, self-reported sexual arousal to male and female stimuli, researchers found that, in general, bisexual men did not have a strong genital arousal to both male and female sexual stimuli. Instead, they had strong genital arousal to one sex or the other, but not to both. Most of the time, bisexual men had a genital arousal pattern similar to that of gay men, with stronger genital arousal to male stimuli. However, a subset of bisexual men had genital arousal patterns similar to those of heterosexual men. In contrast to genital arousal patterns, self-reported sexual arousal of bisexual men was substantial to both sexes. The researchers interpreted their results as a lack of a bisexual arousal pattern. "Rather they [the bisexual men] seem to be interpreting or reporting their arousal patterns differently than other men do," researchers Gerulf Rieger, Meredith L. Chivers, and J. Michael Bailey state.

Self-identified heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual male participants watched three videos--an introductory neutral (relaxing) clip and two sexually explicit films featuring two men having sex with each other and then two women with each other. The participants pressed on a lever to self-report their arousal while equipment measured their penile erection. The study reports no indication of a bisexual pattern of genital arousal, although the bisexual men did report a distinctly bisexual pattern of subjective arousal. "Male bisexuality is not simply the sum of, or the intermediate between, heterosexual and homosexual orientation," the study concludes. "Indeed, with respect to sexual arousal and attraction, it remains to be shown that male bisexuality exists."


This study is published in the August issue of Psychological Science. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article please contact

The flagship journal of the American Psychological Society, Psychological Science publishes authoritative articles of interest across all of psychological science, including brain and behavior, clinical science, cognition, learning and memory, social psychology, and developmental psychology.

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Senior author Dr. J. Michael Bailey is a professor of Psychology at Northwestern University. He has been published in numerous publications.

Lead author Gerulf Rieger is a doctoral student at Northwestern University. He is available for questions.

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