What Caused the Recent Explosion in the Number of Bisexual Men?

By Joseph Castro | August 24, 2011 3:27 pm

spacing is important

By now you’ve probably heard the recent news that male bisexuality is in fact real, in stark contrast with a 2005 study by some of the same scientists that claimed just the opposite. Bloggers and news outlets have unleashed a torrent of witty headlines and snarky remarks about the research, such as CBSNews’ “Study says bisexuality real, but bisexuals say ‘duh.’” Even the Gray Lady herself, The New York Times, got in on the fun with its quip, “No Surprise for Bisexual Men: Report Indicates They Exist.”

Presumably the studies aren’t picking up on a real increase in bisexuality over the past six years, so what’s the deal here—why the sudden change of heart for the Northwestern University researchers?

It all boils down to how the studies found their would-be bisexuals. In the 2005 study, the researchers recruited self-reported bisexuals from newspaper ads. “Last time, they got their guys from an ad in an urban newspaper read by a hipster crowd,” Allen Rosenthal, lead author of the new study, told Life’s Little Mysteries. The researchers chose their participants based on a questionnaire that rated the sexual desires of the men, and then measured the participants’ genital arousal while they watched all-male or all-female porn. The study found that most of the men who claimed to be bisexual were physically aroused only by gay erotica.

This time around, the researchers were more careful to target men who had stronger track records of being into both sexes: “bisexual” participants were only accepted if they had sex with at least two men and two women in the past, and had been in a romantic relationship of at least three months with a member of each sex. The researchers also only recruited the men from online ads where men sought to have sex with heterosexual couples. The results: the bisexual men were aroused by both types of videos used in the previous study (pdf).

Is this it, case closed? Not likely. The study only recruited men from the greater Chicago area, its sample size of 30 bisexual men is relatively small, and over half of them were Caucasian. The researchers hope to expand their study to profile a greater range of bisexual men—presumably there will be more who do exist—but for now the scientific evidence says, “white bisexual men exist in Chicago.”

[via Life's Little Mysteries, New York Times]

Image courtesy of Kati Gilbin / Flickr

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Sex & Mating
MORE ABOUT: sex, sexuality
  • http://www.price4limo.com Cleo

    As long as you’re happy I feel every person should be able to choose their sexual prefernce.

  • Rob

    I’ve known of existence of bisexuality since I reached adulthood. I never doubted it wasn’t real, normal, and widespread. It’s obvious to me. My discomfort and fear is that men will be pressured into accepting themselves as bisexual when they are not. You see, I am gay. So I hope this ‘newfound’ awareness about bisexuality does not pressure straight men or gay men to be anything other than what they already know themselves to be.

  • Brian Too

    Metrosexuals, that’s what caused the increase! :-)

  • http://deleted VIP

    “What Caused the Recent Explosion in the Number of Bisexual Men?”
    Coming out of the closet, that’s all.

  • Evolution

    I really hope the day will come when we stop trying to label everything. Why cant we just enjoy sex without trying to put it into some kind of category. Sex is a beautiful, fun, exciting gift we have built into our biology. I think that to limit yourself in its expression is the real tragedy. Do what you like, with whom you like, where and when you like, as long as its consensual and your not hurting someone. Free Love Babe!

  • Gregg

    Totally agree with you, Evolution!

    But did you know that in the past very few years (as in less than ten), Vancouver has gone from liberal “Vansterdam” to considering a by-law against audible sex in your own home?

  • MK

    Rob, straight men and gay men already feel pressure. I have known a “gay” man who kissed a woman, made out had sex, dated her for 3 years, then dated men and women and now is married. Or a “straight” man who dated women watched straight porn then suddenly felt attracted to men and said “this can’t be” he was a psychologist and 38. He came out as gay, I talk to him recently he said “I am really bisexual I now have feelings for both sexes but I am partnered so I am gay.” I am “lucky” I always knew I was attracted to both sexes and lived dating men and women fluidly but got a hell of a lot of shit for it. I am now with a woman bisexual – most straight women won’t go near me once they know. But as my x boyfriend said “bisexual liberation? I am all for it there is a serious shortage of tops in the gay community.”

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Discoblog

Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »