Racial preferences in sexual attraction among White heterosexual and gay men: Evidence from sexual arousal patterns and negative racial attitudes

Kevin J. Hsu, Ryan F. Lei, Galen V. Bodenhausen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Racial preferences in sexual attraction are highly visible and controversial. They may also negatively impact those who are excluded. It is unclear whether these preferences are merely self-attributed or extend to patterns of experienced sexual arousal. Furthermore, some argue that racial preferences in sexual attraction reflect idiosyncratic personal preferences, while others argue that they are more systematically motivated and reflect broader negative attitudes toward particular races. In two studies, we examined these issues by measuring the sexual arousal patterns and negative racial attitudes of 78 White men in relation to their racial preferences in sexual attraction to White versus Black people. For both White heterosexual men (n = 40; Study 1) and White gay men (n = 38; Study 2), greater racial preferences in sexual attraction to White versus Black people of their preferred gender were associated with more subjective and genital arousal by erotic stimuli featuring White versus Black people of their preferred gender, and with more explicit and implicit negative attitudes toward Black people. Findings suggest that racial preferences in sexual attraction are reflected in patterns of sexual arousal, and they might also be systematically motivated by negative attitudes toward particular races.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13911
JournalPsychophysiology
Volume58
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry

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