Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 161–172 | Cite as

Viewing Time as a Measure of Bisexual Sexual Interest

  • Megan Ebsworth
  • Martin L. LalumièreEmail author
Original Paper


Studies of bisexual sexual interest have focused mostly on measures of genital arousal in bisexual men and have generally failed to find evidence of a bisexual pattern of genital arousal. Bisexual women have rarely been studied and other measures of sexual interest have not been used to study bisexual interest in either sex. In this study, we examined a non-genital measure of sexual interest, viewing time, among 16 bisexual men, 19 bisexual women, 15 heterosexual men, 15 heterosexual women, 15 homosexual men, and 10 homosexual women. Sexual orientation was determined from a self-report questionnaire. Stimuli were pictures of males and females of all five Tanner stages of sexual development. Participants were asked to rate the sexual appeal of the individuals depicted in the pictures, while the time taken to provide a response was covertly measured. Using a signed index that compared viewing times to pictures of sexually mature males and females, bisexual men and bisexual women did not look longer at pictures of one gender, whereas the other four groups had longer viewing times for pictures of one gender. Using an absolute index, the three groups of women showed a similar (and low) degree of gender preference. All groups showed longer viewing times for sexually mature individuals than for sexually immature individuals, suggesting that the viewing time responses of bisexual men and women were not produced by a general tendency to look indiscriminately at all pictures. There were small to moderate correlations between viewing times and rated sexual appeal in all groups. Results suggest that viewing time can be used to detect a bisexual pattern of sexual interest in bisexual men and bisexual women.


Bisexuality Homosexuality Heterosexuality Viewing time Sexual orientation 



We wish to acknowledge the financial support of the University of Lethbridge. We thank the following people who were involved with data collection, data entry, or data analysis: Rylan Boudreau, Annabree Fairweather, Laura Gothreau, Margaux Gregson, Ryan Mallard, and Lindsay Sewall. We also thank Samantha Dawson, Grant Harris, Megan Sawatsky, Michael Seto, and Kelly Suschinsky for their useful comments and suggestions during the writing of this article. A version of this article was presented at the University of Lethbridge Workshop, The Puzzle of Sexual Orientation: What Is It and How Does It Work? Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, June 2010.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of LethbridgeLethbridgeCanada

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