Do actions speak louder than words? perceptions of women’s and men’s branched and coincident configurations of sexual identities and behaviours

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A large body of research documents sexual prejudice towards sexual minority people, but less is known about perceptions of and attitudes towards same-sex behaviours that are not tied to self-identified sexual identities. This gap in the literature is alarming given the growing number of people who identify outside of lesbian, gay, bisexual (LGB), and heterosexual category labels. In the current study, 356 participants were randomly assigned to evaluate a student who varied by gender (woman or man), sexual identity (heterosexual, lesbian, or gay), and sexual behaviour (sexual activity with women or men). Drawing on branched and coincident language posed by sexual configurations theory, targets who had branched configurations (e.g., heterosexual-identified men who engaged in same-sex behaviours) were more likely than those with coincident configurations to be labelled with an identity that did not reflect their self-reported sexual identities. Participants desired greater social distance from those who reported a branched configuration, and heterosexual-identified men were the only target group to have their masculinity affected by having a branched configuration. We hope this research will spark greater interest in considering ‘grey’ areas of sexuality in the psychological study of gender and sexual orientation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychology and Sexuality
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

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Sexual Behavior
Heterosexuality
sex behavior
social distance
gender
target group
sexual orientation
prejudice
masculinity
Social Distance
Masculinity
sexuality
minority
Sexuality
Research
Sexual Minorities
Language
language
Students
Psychology

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology

Cite this

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abstract = "A large body of research documents sexual prejudice towards sexual minority people, but less is known about perceptions of and attitudes towards same-sex behaviours that are not tied to self-identified sexual identities. This gap in the literature is alarming given the growing number of people who identify outside of lesbian, gay, bisexual (LGB), and heterosexual category labels. In the current study, 356 participants were randomly assigned to evaluate a student who varied by gender (woman or man), sexual identity (heterosexual, lesbian, or gay), and sexual behaviour (sexual activity with women or men). Drawing on branched and coincident language posed by sexual configurations theory, targets who had branched configurations (e.g., heterosexual-identified men who engaged in same-sex behaviours) were more likely than those with coincident configurations to be labelled with an identity that did not reflect their self-reported sexual identities. Participants desired greater social distance from those who reported a branched configuration, and heterosexual-identified men were the only target group to have their masculinity affected by having a branched configuration. We hope this research will spark greater interest in considering ‘grey’ areas of sexuality in the psychological study of gender and sexual orientation.",
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