Stereotypes of Bisexual People: What Do Bisexual People Themselves Think?

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Abstract

Little is known about how bisexual people see themselves as a group or the extent to which they agree with the stereotypes that others have of them. We randomly assigned bisexual participants (N = 346) to rate heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual targets on a variety of traits. Results suggested that bisexual participants do hold stereotypes about sexual orientation groups (including their own group), but not the same stereotypes that heterosexual and gay/lesbian people hold. Specifically, bisexual participants perceived bisexual targets as similar to heterosexual targets on the dimension of masculinity/femininity, rather than “in the middle” between heterosexual and homosexual targets. Further distinguishing their views from those of heterosexual and gay/lesbian participants, bisexual participants did not rate bisexual targets as especially indecisive, prone to nonmonogamy, focused on sex, or likely to cheat. These results help clarify the literature on stereotypes of sexual orientation groups. Prior work left open the possibility that stereotypes of bisexual people reflected a consensus view, including the opinions of bisexual people themselves, but our findings suggest otherwise. Addressing the often-overlooked point of view of bisexual people can reveal patterns of social attitudes that would otherwise escape notice.

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