Members of the LGBT community are no stranger to the many stereotypes and cultural
explanations from those trying to understand their identities. New research conducted by Emma
L. McGorray and Dr. Christopher D. Petsko in Social Psychological and Personality Science
focuses particularly on the stereotypes that bisexual men and women face in comparison to
their gay and straight counterparts. Despite robust evidence that proves the genuine existence
and validity of bisexual men and women, bisexual people often face identity denial – the
experience of having one’s identity questioned or challenged
– more often than gay men or
lesbian women. It is safe to assume that stereotypes about bisexual individuals often lead to
these identity-denying sentiments. Thus, it is important to understand these stereotypes to
figure out how to disrupt identity-denying experiences that bisexual individuals face.
It is important to examine the relationship between stereotypes and identity denial
separately for bisexual men and bisexual women because bisexual denial or erasure can occur
differently for each group. One study found that bisexual men were often viewed as “actually
more than bisexual women. Another study found that men’s bisexuality was seen as similar
to homosexuality, whereas women’s bisexuality was seen as similar to heterosexuality

Stereotyping bisexual men and women by comparing them to their homosexual and
straight counterparts may contribute to the identity-denying experiences these individuals often
face. This is likely because of the fact that stereotypes are linked to expectations and behavior
and may contribute to the negative experiences these individuals face
. These expectations may
be influenced by the trend of greater behavior in sexual fluidity by women than men, which can
be explained by various social, psychological, and evolutionary factors. By understanding the
stereotypes that arise at the intersection of sexual orientation and gender, specifically for
bisexual people, we can better intervene on the identity-denying beliefs that specifically affect
bisexual men and women.

To find out more about the public’s perception of bisexual men and women, 358
participants were assigned to choose from a list of 99 traits what they believed to be most
stereotypically representative of the group they were assigned. Each participant was randomly
assigned to rank the personality traits for one of the following: heterosexual men, heterosexual
women, bisexual men, bisexual women, homosexual men, homosexual women. In order to find
out if bisexual men are stereotyped towards straight men, and bisexual women are stereotyped
towards straight women, they compared the similarities between the chosen stereotype traits for
each group. From these findings, they found that bisexual men were in fact more stereotyped
with gay personality traits. However, bisexual women were not stereotyped similarly to straight

In a second study, they asked participants to freely write stereotypical traits for one of the
groups (bisexual men, heterosexual women, etc). They once again ranked the most frequently
occuring stereotypes from each group, and analyzed the rate of differences in stereotypes
between the groups. The findings replicated, with bisexual men stereotyped to be more similar
to gay men, and bisexual women NOT to be stereotyped similar to straight women.
In the third experiment, participants were assigned specific stereotypes coupled with a
specific sexual orientation. For example, they were asked ‘According to cultural stereotypes,
how feminine is a bisexual man? In addition, participants were asked to what extent they
believed bisexual men or women were ‘actually gay/straight.’ The findings show that once
again, bisexual men are more so stereotyped with straight personality traits, and bisexual
women are NOT stereotyped with straight personality traits. However, bisexual women are more
likely to be identified as ‘actually straight’ than ‘actually gay,’ and bisexual men are more likely to
be identified as ‘actually gay’ rather than ‘actually straight’

Is there a difference in the way bisexual men and women are culturally stereotyped?
These findings suggest so. Bisexual men across the board are stereotyped to be similar to gay
men. Bisexual women, although not stereotyped to be similar to straight women, are more likely
to be directly identified as “actually straight” compared to bisexual men.

This research provides important insight into the differences in cultural stereotypes
surrounding the sexual orientations of men and women. Although this study points out that a
difference does exist, there needs to be further analysis into the causational relationships
between these perceptions. That is, there needs to be more research into what factors
contribute to, or cause these sex differences in cultural stereotypes of bisexuality. In addition,
this study confines its stereotypes into the gender binary of men and women, and the binary of
sexual orientations of simply gay, straight, and bisexual. There is a rapidly growing community
of people (primarily in younger generations) with gender and sexual identities that don’t conform
to traditional sexuality labels (gay, lesbian, bisexual), which is becoming more important to
consider when thinking about stereotypical viewpoints of the LGBTQ+ community at large

Melis Demiralp is a junior undergraduate research assistant for the Buss Lab at the University
of Texas at Austin
. Her research interests include how evolutionary psychology can inform
bisexuality and other non-traditional human mating behavior. You can find her on Twitter
Ashni Guneratne is currently an undergraduate research assistant for the
Buss Lab at the University of Texas at Austin. Her current research interests include female
intrasexual mate competition, mate-selection, and understanding female bisexuality from an
evolutionary perspective. You can find her on Twitter