Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 42, Issue 7, pp 1217–1222 | Cite as

Accurate Identification of a Preference for Insertive Versus Receptive Intercourse from Static Facial Cues of Gay Men

Original Paper

Abstract

In intercourse between men, one of the partners typically assumes the role of an insertive partner (top) while the other assumes a receptive role (bottom). Although some research suggests that the perceptions of potential partners’ sexual roles in gay men’s relationships can affect whether a man will adopt the role of top or bottom during sexual intercourse, it remains unclear whether sexual roles could be perceived accurately by naïve observers. In Study 1, we found that naïve observers were able to discern men’s sexual roles from photos of their faces with accuracy that was significantly greater than chance guessing. Moreover, in Study 2, we determined that the relationship between men’s perceived and actual sexual roles was mediated by perceived masculinity. Together, these results suggest that people rely on perceptions of characteristics relevant to stereotypical male–female gender roles and heterosexual relationships to accurately infer sexual roles in same-sex relationships. Thus, same-sex relationships and sexual behavior may be perceptually framed, understood, and possibly structured in ways similar to stereotypes about opposite-sex relationships, suggesting that people may rely on these inferences to form accurate perceptions.

Keywords

Gender roles Masculinity Person perception Sexual orientation Nonverbal behavior 

References

  1. Ambady, N., Hallahan, M., & Conner, B. (1999). Accuracy of judgments of sexual orientation from thin slices of behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 538–547.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Bailey, J. M., Kim, P. Y., Hills, A., & Linsenmeier, J. A. W. (1997). Butch, femme, or straight acting? Partner preferences of gay men and lesbians. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 960–973.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator–mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1173–1182.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Buhrmester, M. D., Kwang, T., & Gosling, S. D. (2011). Amazon’s Mechanical Turk: A new source of inexpensive, yet high-quality, data? Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6, 3–5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Carballo-Diéguez, A., Dolezal, C., Nieves, L., Diaz, F., Decena, C., & Balan, I. (2004). Looking for a tall, dark, macho man: Sexual-role behavior variations in Latino gay and bisexual men. Culture, Health, & Sexuality, 6, 159–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Freeman, J. B., Johnson, K. L., Ambady, N., & Rule, N. O. (2010). Sexual orientation perception involves gendered facial cues. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, 1318–1331.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Gil, S. (2007). A narrative exploration of gay men’s sexual practices as a dialectical dialogue. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 22, 63–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hart, T. A., Wolitski, R. J., Purcell, D. W., Gómez, C., & The Seropositive Urban Men’s Study Team. (2003). Sexual behavior among HIV-positive men who have sex with men: What’s in a label? Journal of Sex Research, 40, 179–188.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Jeffries, W. L. (2009). A comparative analysis of homosexual behavior, sex role preference, and anal sex proclivities in Latino and non-Latino men. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 765–778.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Johnson, K. L., Gill, S., Reichman, V., & Tassinary, L. G. (2007). Swagger, sway, and sexuality: Judging sexual orientation from body motion and morphology. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 321–334.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Kippax, S., & Smith, G. (2001). Anal intercourse and power in sex between men. Sexualities, 4, 413–434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Macmillan, N. A., & Creelman, C. D. (2005). Detection theory: A user’s guide. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  13. Moskowitz, D. A., & Hart, T. A. (2011). The influence of physical body traits and masculinity on anal sex roles in gay and bisexual men. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 835–841.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Moskowitz, D. A., Rieger, G., & Roloff, M. E. (2008). Tops, bottoms and versatiles. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 23, 191–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Moskowitz, D. A., Rieger, G., & Seal, D. W. (2009). Narcissism, self-evaluation, and partner preferences among men who have sex with men. Personality and Individual Differences, 46, 725–728.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F. (2004). SPSS and SAS procedures for estimating indirect effects in simple mediation models. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers, 36, 717–731.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Rieger, G., Linsenmeier, J. A. W., Gygax, L., Garcia, S., & Bailey, J. M. (2010). Dissecting “gaydar”: Accuracy and the role of masculinity–femininity. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39, 124–140.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Rule, N. O., & Ambady, N. (2008). Brief exposures: Male sexual orientation is accurately perceived at 50 ms. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 1100–1105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Rule, N. O., Ambady, N., Adams, R. B., & Macrae, C. N. (2008). Accuracy and awareness in the perception and categorization of male sexual orientation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 1019–1028.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Rule, N. O., Ambady, N., & Hallett, K. C. (2009a). Female sexual orientation is perceived accurately, rapidly, and automatically from the face and its features. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 1245–1251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Rule, N. O., Macrae, C. N., & Ambady, N. (2009b). Ambiguous group membership is extracted automatically from faces. Psychological Science, 20, 441–443.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Rule, N. O., Rosen, K. S., Slepian, M. L., & Ambady, N. (2011). Mating interest improves women’s accuracy in judging male sexual orientation. Psychological Science, 22, 843–848.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Tskhay, K. O., & Rule, N. O. (2013). Accuracy in categorizing perceptually ambiguous groups: A review and meta-analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 17, 72–86.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Wegesin, D. J., & Meyer-Bahlburg, H. F. L. (2000). Top/bottom self-label, anal sex practices, HIV risk and gender role identity in gay men in New York City. Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 12, 43–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Wei, C., & Raymond, H. F. (2011). Preference for and maintenance of anal sex roles among men who have sex with men: Sociodemographic and behavioral correlates. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 829–834.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Weinrich, J. D., Grant, I., Jacobson, D. L., Robinson, S. R., McCutchan, J. A., & The HNRC Group. (1992). Effect of recalled childhood gender non-conformity on adult genitoerotic role and AIDS exposure. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 21, 559–585.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Zhou, C., Raymond, H. F., Ding, X., Lu, R., Xu, J., Wu, G., et al. (2012). Anal sex role, circumcision status, and HIV infection among men who have sex with men in Chongqing, China. Archives of Sexual Behavior. doi:10.1007/s10508-012-0008-6.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations