Lisa Diamond is in the news again with an article in this month’s Developmental Psychology regarding her longitudinal work with women.
Here are a few quotes from the USA Today article:
Being bisexual is a distinct orientation, not a temporary stage, says the study by Lisa Diamond, an associate professor of psychology and gender studies at the University of Utah. It is being published next week in the January issue of Developmental Psychology, a journal of the American Psychological Association.
Diamond conducted face-to-face interviews around New York state in 1995, when the women (who identified themselves as lesbian, bisexual or unlabeled, but not heterosexual) were ages 18-25. She then spoke with them by phone every two years.
“These findings are therefore more consistent with the model of bisexuality as a stable identity than a transitional stage,” the study says.
Diamond suggests that most women “possess the capacity to experience sexual desires for both sexes, under the right circumstances.”
Regarding practical matters of relationships, the article said:
Diamond says heterosexual women may “experiment with same-sex desires and behaviors, but if they really are predominantly heterosexual, they may enjoy experimentation but may not change their sexuality.”
The study also debunks the stereotype that bisexual women aren’t able to commit to monogamous relationships because they’re always thinking about desire for the other gender.
31 thoughts on “Bisexuality stable in women”
No – I was thinking the same about you though? If you are making a joke – it is sort of in bad taste. If you are serious – it is sort of indicative of your definition of love, sexuality, and gender.
I think you missed the point.
Sexuality is different than love (so really it is not an oxymoron).
“Bisexuality stable”, now that’s an oxymoron!
Ken, Jayhuck, Minty,
Would anyone go to bed with someone they are not attracted to in the least bit? I thought we were assuming a continuum (that means it is neither proved nor unproved), but that simply means that in nature discontinuity is usually not the rule. However, no one knows how this continuum, if proved to exist, would be shaped in each sex group: U-shaped, J-shaped… That would include your Howard Stern having some attraction for the Brad Pitt or your average gay man for the Angelina consort.
Joking apart — How do you objectively measure sexual orientation besides self-reporting scoring on scales? Plethysmographic response, neuroscans? You name it.
Now, I still find it interesting that they found a large response to same-sex phantasy in a very large sample of twins (9153) and that they found some general genetic suport for this in the studied population. They also asserted that this genetic support in the people who had some potential for homosexual response overlaps the genetic support of people who actually had homosexual behaviour in the last 12 months. So where are the gay genes if reponse is ‘prevalent’ but behaviour is specific? They posed a similar question: why only a very small group would act on their same-sex phantasies if the found genetic support for any same-sex phantasising is prevalent? It’s a question of behavioural genetics, not one of cultural fisticuffs. Can you address this issue in the light of all the available information?
You may have already read this, but I’m going to put it here for you or others to read if you like. Its a nice “Wiki” article on the Kinsey Reports – the good, bad and ugly about the reports and some of the people who work to discredit or defend his work:
I said I was well aware of his faults already. His continuum idea still stands as a possible explanation for this “fluidity of sexuality” we talk so much about.
Do you really want to use Kinsey (who used children in his studies) to be a marker for research? Or criminals? Is there a continuum?- Of course. Was his record of it accurate – no.
The participants were asked to respond to the following question: “If a, in your opinion, handsome man [to male participants]/beautiful woman [to female participants], whom you like, suggested sexual interaction with you, how likely would you be able to do it (if you could define the nature of the interaction and nobody else would know about it)”.
Well an easy answer to this question, particularly in liberal
societies where the responder might wish to burnish his or her open-minded credentials, is “Sure! I’ll try anything once.” Even Howard Stern, straight man extraordinaire, has joked on air that he would have sex with Brad Pitt, since Brad Pitt is on an otherworldly level of beauty.
Likewise, would your average gay guy turn down Angelina Jolie if propositioned? I think not, if only for the experience. (lol)
So, sure, why not – 32.8% of the men and 65.4% of the women reported that they would try sex with a handsome/beautiful same-sex person if asked (and noone else would find out).
This is an interesting study, as far as it goes – but I don’t it goes very far.
Before you go quoting Kinsey – look into his research methods and population samples.
I still don’t understand what you found to be “disquieting” about the study.
And based on this study, I don’t see what the big deal about PHR is. To me it is just a measure of the number of guys who “wouldn’t kick Mick Jagger out of bed.” I don’t really see how it is a useful measure of sexual orientation.
Let me just add that: we have created our own blinkers by categorising sexuality, then we tried to ascertain reality with the blinkers on. These categories that scientists are responsible for were injected into culture and permeated people’s minds and their own judgment of themselves. Everyone must be one way or another, or in denial. Policies were devised to promote one identity or another.
Now researchers discover much to their surprise that their endeared categories (‘sexual orientation’, ‘homosexuality’) could be greatly unreflected in behaviour. Science does not seem to have influenced much people’s choices in sexual matters here, but it may have created unnecessary social pressure. If you listen to young people’s culture you can get an inkling about what they are confronted with right now in the emancipated society.
You have at least two simple reasons for why is the study I mentioned before important:
–largest ever sample of twins of both sexes,
–largest proportional score of same-sex sexual interest ever found in a large sample survey (one third of males and up to two thirds of the females).
For me it’s interesting because they put aside the usual terms, avoiding all the conceptual noise that makes people balk at reporting attractions, behaviour or identity.
They differentiate potential for homosexual response (PHR) from behaviour which, if you read the entire reasearch report, eventually leads them into questioning whether current reasearch is not missing the point about the issue of homosexuality, by focusing on the people who act on their same-sex phantasies, as opposed to people who do not have them or act solely on other-sex phantasies.
The words speak for themselves:
If this is replicated or confirmed, it will draw the curtains on a great part of Bem’s EBE (especially the sexual segregation effect on sexual orientation), Hamer’s Xq28 marker, the neurohormonal hypothesis and the psychodynamic explanations.
I like it also because it’s more inclusive of the continuum of attractions and it does not focus on exclusive categories of people.
I’m with Ken. I’m struggling to understand the importance of this one study.
Ken — to the best of my knowledge, this is the highest score of same-sex sexual interest ever found in a large sample survey of twins. Bailey and collegues did one on 1824 Australian male twins, but only 14.5% of them reported ever having same-sex attractions. What is more, 15.2% reported having at least one same-sex sexual experience. The differences in figures and proportions between these two surveys are flabbergasting. As a researcher, I would very much question whether sexual orientation has a statistic distribution that is regular enough to have a level of confidence greater than 90%. It seems it does not.
A rather funny hypothesis would be that sexual preference can greatly differ from one country to another.
Evan said in post 81333:
They surveyed a sample of 6001 women and 3152 men for PHR and what they found is disquieting: of the entire sample 3.1% men and 1.2% women had engaged in homosexual behaviour in the previous 12 months, however the reported PHR was 32.8% for men and 65.4% for women.
Why is are these results “disquieting”?
I meant “Scandinavian countries”, of course…
I’m not sure where I should post this, but here it goes.
There is a new study on twins conducted by a research team from Finland. Here is a brief report of the findings. This is very interesting — perhaps Dr Throckmorton might consider a dedicated topic. Unlike previous studies on twins, this one talks about ‘potential for homosexual response’ (PHR) instead of ‘same-sex attractions’ or any other similar term we know from the specific literature. They surveyed a sample of 6001 women and 3152 men for PHR and what they found is disquieting: of the entire sample 3.1% men and 1.2% women had engaged in homosexual behaviour in the previous 12 months, however the reported PHR was 32.8% for men and 65.4% for women.
May I remind you that Scandinavic countries have been the most liberal environments for sexual education and nudity for quite some time? A friend of mine from Finland told me that they are very open to sexuality: children are taught very early about sexual issues, they go to pool naked in front of their peers until later age than in other parts of the world, and teens become sexually experienced very early. That makes reports in this study very credible for a liberal society, but the motivation would more interesting to investigate: why would so many respondents confess to having same-sex sexual interest but more than 90% of them refrain from that? Finland is not a conservative country, most of the population (95%) does not attend church and is very secular, and they are very supportive of gays.
I hope this will help those who see these debates as Star Wars between gays and ex-gays to step down a bit from their own assumptions.
In a continuation of what I wrote above, it could be that males have the same bisexual feelings that women do, but they don’t act on them in the same way. If the strength or frequency of bisexual feelings are similar to those in women, it could simply be that men act on them according to the either/or idea, rather than deal with the possibility that they could entertain both.
Bisexuality is counterproductive in men and to nobodies surprise we don’t see very much of it.
I’m not sure that this is true. I don’t know that I hear about male bisexuality any more or less than female bisexuality – and if there is a difference in reporting, it may have something to do with the fact that our society tends to tolerate female bisexuality and homosexuality far more than it will tolerate male bisexuality or homosexuality. I’m not suggesting that this is the only thing at play here, but I do believe our society’s acceptance or rejection of these things does play a part.
Timothy, Ken, Mary,
When we’re talking about the evidence that exists concerning men, women and sexual fluidity – I’m just curious if the studies that have been done look at people across different cultures or not. I personally have no idea, I am just curious. 🙂
From the December 4th, 2007 show.
“Howard asked Martina if she’d ever been with a man, and Martina said yes, when she was 17 – and hinted at the possibility that she’s had straight sex since.”
I wish I had the transcript. There is a lot more to that story than that.
Martina Navratilova was on the Howard Stern show several weeks ago. She admitted that she found men attractive and from time to time had sex with them.
I read the recap online. Sadly I didn’t hear it live.
Bisexuality makes some evolutionary sense in women.
If their male mate dies they still need a partner to help raise/support the children. Being able to find other women attractive is probably a succesful survival strategy.
Bisexuality is counterproductive in men and to nobodies surprise we don’t see very much of it.
Actually, this is in line with what Bailey has published on the subject. He contended that in males sexual preferences tend to describe an U-shaped curve, whereas in women sexual preferences would be distributed along a bell curve. Bailey even hypothesised that women, due to flexibility in attractions, may not have a sexual orientation at all or the aplicability of the concept would be rather weak.
It is interesting to me that Lisa Diamond would comment on heterosexual women at all (“…if they [heterosexual women] really are predominantly heterosexual, they may enjoy experimentation but may not change their sexuality.”) since her sample excluded heterosexual women at baseline.
Although, if I recall correctly, her report at 8 years follow-up indicated that about 70% of the women reported changes in identity labels in both heterosexual and homosexual directions. I believe about 20% switched to a heterosexual identity label at one time.
I would have to hunt up the references, but I believe the concensus is that men demonstrate an either/or pattern that does not seem to change (a J pattern). Women express greater incidences of bisexuality (a modified W pattern) and to the extent that there is fluidity, it tends to be found nearly only in women.
Mary asked in post 81143:
do you think women and men are different when it comes to sexual fluidity and bisexuality?
Fluidity yes. Most of what I’ve heard/read about fluidity in sexual orientation seems to indicate that women are much more prone to shifts in orientation than men are.
As far as differences in bisexuality, haven’t really thought much about it.
Fair enough – but you get the idea I am getting at.
Ken, do you think women and men are different when it comes to sexual fluidity and bisexuality??
Mary said in post 81137:
therefore – that is what they are and they are only fooling themselves when they say they are heterosexual.
Only women who didn’t identify as heterosexual where part of the study.
I’m interested in what Michael Bailey’s reaction to this would be. He has authored at least on paper (“Gay, Straight or lying”) that suggest bisexuality doesn’t exist. Although, from what I understand Michael is primarily just interest in men 😉
I’m just waiting for someone to say that those who experiement must be gay since they had an inclination to do something homosexual – therefore – that is what they are and they are only fooling themselves when they say they are heterosexual.
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