The Eyes Have It: Sex and Sexual Orientation Differences in Pupil Dilation Patterns

Department of Human Development, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, United States of America.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 08/2012; 7(8):e40256. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040256
Source: PubMed


Recent research suggests profound sex and sexual orientation differences in sexual response. These results, however, are based on measures of genital arousal, which have potential limitations such as volunteer bias and differential measures for the sexes. The present study introduces a measure less affected by these limitations. We assessed the pupil dilation of 325 men and women of various sexual orientations to male and female erotic stimuli. Results supported hypotheses. In general, self-reported sexual orientation corresponded with pupil dilation to men and women. Among men, substantial dilation to both sexes was most common in bisexual-identified men. In contrast, among women, substantial dilation to both sexes was most common in heterosexual-identified women. Possible reasons for these differences are discussed. Because the measure of pupil dilation is less invasive than previous measures of sexual response, it allows for studying diverse age and cultural populations, usually not included in sexuality research.

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Article: The Eyes Have It: Sex and Sexual Orientation Differences in Pupil Dilation Patterns

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    • "Research on bisexual women's sexual arousal and interest is quite limited, with only three published studies on this subject (compared to 10 published studies of bisexual men's sexual arousal). In two of these studies, bisexual women demonstrated a pattern of sexual interest measured by viewing time and pupil dilation that was significantly less gender-specific than that of lesbians (Lippa, 2013;Rieger&Savin-Williams,2012)although, in one other study, their absolute viewing time pattern was no less gender-specific than that of lesbians (with a non-significant preference toward women) (Ebsworth & Lalumiere, 2012). What accounts for these inconsistent findings of bisexual men and women's sexual arousal and interest? "
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    ABSTRACT: The present study assessed the gender-specificity of sexual interest of bisexually-identified men and women, compared to gay men and lesbian women. Utilizing viewing time as a measure of sexual interest, self-identified bisexual men (N = 50) and women (N = 54) rated the sexual appeal of sexually provocative pictures while the amount of time spent viewing each picture was inconspicuously measured. As hypothesized, bisexual men and women demonstrated a pattern of sexual interest that was significantly less gender-specific than that of a gay/lesbian sample. That is, bisexual men and women (1) viewed other-sex pictures significantly longer than gay men/lesbian women viewed other-sex pictures and (2) rated other sex pictures significantly more sexually appealing than gay men/lesbians rated other-sex pictures. Additionally, the difference in viewing times and appeal ratings between male and female sexual stimuli for bisexuals was significantly less than the difference evidenced by gay men and lesbians. These findings suggest that self-identified bisexual men and women demonstrate a truly bisexual pattern of sexual interest, characterized by greater other-sex attraction and less gender-specificity than is true for gay men and lesbians.
    Archives of Sexual Behavior 10/2014; 44(5). DOI:10.1007/s10508-014-0415-y · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    • "In addition, degree of pupil dilation corresponds with time spent viewing these stimuli, self-reported sexual attraction to stimuli, and self-reported sexual orientation (Hess et al., 1965; Rieger & Savin-Williams, 2012). These findings point to the utility of this measure for the present research. "
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    ABSTRACT: Conflicting evidence exists regarding whether bisexual-identified men are sexually aroused to both men and women. We hypothesized that a distinct characteristic, level of curiosity about sexually diverse acts, distinguishes bisexual-identified men with and without bisexual arousal. Study 1 assessed men's (N=277) sexual arousal via pupil dilation to male and female sexual stimuli. Bisexual men were, on average, higher in their sexual curiosity than other men. Despite this general difference, only bisexual-identified men with elevated sexual curiosity showed bisexual arousal. Those lower in curiosity had responses resembling those of homosexual men. Study 2 assessed men's (N=72) sexual arousal via genital responses and replicated findings of Study 1. Study 3 provided information on the validity on our measure of sexual curiosity by relating it to general curiosity and sexual sensation seeking (N=83). Based on their sexual arousal and personality, at least two groups of men identify as bisexual.
    Biological Psychology 09/2013; 94(3):479-489. DOI:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2013.09.007 · 3.40 Impact Factor
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    • "All samples are briefly described at the bottom of Table 1 and are referred to in the text by their abbreviated names. Four additional studies , not represented in Table 1, were derived from targeted recruitment strategies for the purpose of exploring particular aspects of sexual orientation (Austin et al., 2007; Rieger & Savin-Williams, 2012b; Savin-Williams & Rieger, in preparation; Savin-Williams, Rieger, & Rosenthal, in press). These are described in the text, under the sections for which they are relevant. "
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    ABSTRACT: We reviewed empirical evidence regarding whether mostly heterosexual exists as a sexual orientation distinct from two adjacent groups on a sexual continuum—exclusively heterosexual and substantially bisexual. We addressed the question: Do mostly heterosexuals show a unique profile of sexual and romantic characteristics that distinguishes them as a separate sexual orientation group? We found sufficient data in four areas to support an affirmative answer. Individuals who acknowledged a mostly heterosexual orientation were distinct from adjacent sexual orientation groups in having a small degree of same-sex sexual and/or romantic attraction and, occasionally, same-sex behavior; constituted a substantial prevalence in the population; were relatively stable in their orientation over time; and reported that this sexual identity was subjectively meaningful to them. Findings suggested that self-identification as mostly heterosexual or an acknowledgment of slight same-sex sexuality increases during the teenage years, peaks around the early twenties (somewhat sooner for men than women), and remains relatively high during young adulthood. Limited evidence suggested that prevalence is lower among older participants. These findings have implications for our conceptualization of sexual orientation as a continuum, the nature of sex differences in sexuality, developmental changes in sexuality, biologically based assessments of sexual orientation, and an etiological theory of mostly heterosexuality.
    Developmental Review 03/2013; 33(1):58–88. DOI:10.1016/j.dr.2013.01.001 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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