Bisexuality pp 95-111 | Cite as

6 Binegativity: Attitudes Toward and Stereotypes About Bisexual Individuals

  • Christina DyarEmail author
  • Brian A. Feinstein


Research indicates that bisexual individuals face unique stressors due to the stigmatization of bisexuality (i.e., negative attitudes toward and stereotypes about bisexual people, referred to as binegativity) and these stressors contribute to the health disparities that they experience. It is critical to understand the components of binegativity and factors that influence binegativity in order to develop effective strategies to reduce this stigma and resultant stressors that contribute to health disparities affecting bisexual people. The objective of this chapter is to review the empirical research on binegativity, including its core components and correlates, as well as promising interventions for reducing this stigma. Several conclusions can be drawn from our review. First, binegativity includes hostility toward bisexual people, stereotypes that bisexuality is an unstable and illegitimate sexual orientation, and stereotypes that bisexual individuals are sexually irresponsible (e.g., unfaithful in relationships, have sexually transmitted infections). Second, there are gender and sexual orientation differences in binegativity, such it is more strongly endorsed by a heterosexual individuals compared to gay and lesbian individuals and among heterosexual men compared to heterosexual women. Heterosexual men also report more negative attitudes toward bisexual men than toward bisexual women. Third, binegativity is associated with other factors, such as demographic characteristics (e.g., older age; and lower income and education) and conservative beliefs. Fourth, experimental studies confirm self-report findings that bisexual individuals are perceived more negatively than gay, lesbian, and heterosexual individuals. Finally, research is beginning to develop strategies to improve attitudes toward bisexual individuals (e.g., intergroup contact and multicultural education), which have the potential to reduce health disparities affecting this population.


Bisexuality Binegativity Stereotyping Prejudice 


  1. Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Cambridge, MA: Addison Wesley.Google Scholar
  2. Balsam, K. F., & Mohr, J. J. (2007). Adaptation to sexual orientation stigma: A comparison of bisexual and lesbian/gay adults. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 54(3), 306–319. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Banks, J. A., & Banks, C. A. M. (2013). Multicultural education: Issues and perspective (8th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  4. Barron, J. M., Struckman-Johnson, C., Quevillon, R., & Banka, S. R. (2008). Heterosexual Men's attitudes toward gay men: A hierarchical model including masculinity, openness, and theoretical explanations. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 9(3), 154–166. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bartoş, S. E., Berger, I., & Hegarty, P. (2014). Interventions to reduce sexual prejudice: A study-space analysis and meta-analytic review. The Journal of Sex Research, 51(4), 363–382. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bostwick, W. B., & Hequembourg, A. (2014). ‘Just a little hint’: Bisexual-specific microaggressions and their connection to epistemic injustices. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 16(5), 488–503. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brewster, M. E., & Moradi, B. (2010). Perceived experiences of anti-bisexual prejudice: Instrument development and evaluation. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 57(4), 451–468. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bruin, K. d., & Arndt, M. (2010). Attitudes toward bisexual men and women in a university context: Relations with race, gender, knowing a bisexual man or woman and sexual orientation. Journal of Bisexuality, 10(3), 233–252. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Case, K. A., Fishbein, H. D., & Ritchey, P. N. (2008). Personality, prejudice, and discrimination against women and homosexuals. Current Research in Social Psychology, 14(2), 23–38. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cox, N., Vanden Berghe, W., Dewaele, A., & Vincke, J. (2010). Acculturation strategies and mental health in gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth. Journal of Youth and Adolescense, 39(10), 1199–1210. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cox, S., Bimbi, D. S., & Parsons, J. T. (2013). Examination of social contact on Binegativity among lesbians and gay men. Journal of Bisexuality, 13(2), 215–228. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dodge, B., Herbenick, D., Friedman, M. R., Schick, V., Fu, T. J., Bostwick, W., et al. (2016). Attitudes toward bisexual men and women among a nationally representative probability sample of adults in the United States. PLoS One, 11(10), e0164430. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dyar, C., Feinstein, B. A., & London, B. (2014). Dimensions of sexual identity and minority stress among bisexual women: The role of partner gender. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 1(4), 441–451. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dyar, C., Feinstein, B. A., & London, B. (2015). Mediators of differences between lesbians and bisexual women in sexual identity and minority stress. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 2(1), 43–51. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dyar, C., Lytle, A., London, B., & Levy, S. R. (2017). An experimental investigation of the application of binegative stereotypes. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 4(3), 314–327.
  16. Eliason, M. J. (1997). The prevalence and nature of biphobia in heterosexual undergraduate students. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 26(3), 317–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Feinstein, B. A., & Dyar, C. (2017). Bisexuality, minority stress, and health. Current Sexual Health Reports, 9(1), 42–49. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Feinstein, B. A., Dyar, C., Bhatia, V., Latack, J. A., & Davila, J. (2014). Willingness to engage in romantic and sexual activities with bisexual partners: Gender and sexual orientation differences. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 1(3), 255–262. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Feinstein, B. A., Dyar, C., Bhatia, V., Latack, J. A., & Davila, J. (2016). Conservative beliefs, attitudes toward bisexuality, and willingness to engage in romantic and sexual activities with a bisexual partner. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 45(6), 1535–1550. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Friedman, M. R., Dodge, B., Schick, V., Herbenick, D., Hubach, R., Bowling, J., et al. (2014). From bias to bisexual health dispartities: Attitudes toward bisexual men and women in the United States. LGBT Health, 1(4), 309–318. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gallup. (2015). Gay and Lesbian Rights 2015. Retrieved from
  22. Haslam, N., & Levy, S. R. (2006). Essentialist beliefs about homosexuality: Structure and implications for prejudice. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32(4), 471–485. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hayfield, N., Clarke, V., & Halliwell, E. (2014). Bisexual women's understandings of social marginalisation: 'The heterosexuals don't understand us but nor do the lesbians'. Feminism & Psychology, 24(3), 352–372. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hequembourg, A. L., & Brallier, S. A. (2009). An exploration of sexual minority stress across the lines of gender and sexual identity. Journal of Homosexuality, 56(3), 273–298. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Herek, G. M. (1994). Assessing heterosexuals’ attitudes toward lesbians and gay men: A review of empirical research with the ATLG scale. In B. Greene, & G. M. Herek (Eds.) Lesbian and gay psychology: Theory, research, and clinical applications (pp. 206–228). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  26. Herek, G. M. (2000). Sexual prejudice and gender: Do Heterosexuals' attitudes toward lesbians and gay men differ? Journal of Social Issues, 56(2), 251–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Herek, G. M. (2002). Heterosexuals’ attitudes toward bisexual men and women in the United States. Journal of Sex Research, 39, 264–274. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Horn, S. S. (2012). Attitudes toward sexual orientation. In C.J. Patterson and A.R. D’Augelli (Eds.) Handbook of Psychology and Sexual Orientation. Oxford Scholarship Online.Google Scholar
  29. Kertzner, R. M., Meyer, I. H., Frost, D. M., & Stirratt, M. J. (2009). Social and psychological well-being in lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals: The effects of race, gender, age, and sexual identity. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 79(4), 500–510. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kite, M. E., & Whitley, B. E. (1996). Sex differences in attitudes toward homosexual persons, behaviors, and civil rights: A meta-analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 336–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Louderback, L. A., & Whitley, B. E. (1997). Perceived erotic value of homosexuality and sex-role attitudes as mediators of sex differences in heterosexual college students' attitudes toward lesbians and gay men. Journal of Sex Research, 34, 175–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lytle, A., Dyar, C., Levy, S. R., & London, B. (2017). Contact with bisexual individuals reduces binegativity among heterosexuals and lesbians/gay men. European Journal of Social Psychology., 47(5), 580–599.Google Scholar
  33. Mohr, J. J., Jackson, S. D., & Sheets, R. L. (2017). Sexual orientation self-presentation among bisexual-identified women and men: Patterns and predictors. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 46(5), 1465–1479. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mohr, J. J., & Rochlen, A. B. (1999). Measuring attitudes regarding bisexuality in lesbian, gay male, and heterosexual populations. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 46(3), 353–369. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Morrison, K. E., Gruenhage, J. M., & Pedersen, C. L. (2016). Challenging binaries by saying good bi: Perceptions of bisexual Men's identity legitimacy. Journal of Bisexuality, 16(3), 361–377. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Morrison, T. G., Harrington, R., & McDermott, D. T. (2010). Bi now, gay later: Implicit and explicit binegativity among Irish university students. Journal of Bisexuality, 10(3), 211–232. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Morrison, T. G., Kenny, P., & Harrington, A. (2005). Modern prejudice toward gay men and lesbian women: Assessing the viability of a measure of modern homonegative attitudes within an Irish context. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 131(3), 219–250. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mulick, P. S., & Wright, L. W. (2002). Examining the existence of biphobia in the heterosexual and homosexual populations. Journal of Bisexuality, 2(4), 48–64. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Ochs, R. (1996). In B. A. Firestein (Ed.), Bisexuality: The psychology and politics of an invisible minority (pp. 217–239). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  40. Pettigrew, T. F., & Tropp, L. R. (2006). A meta-analytic test of intergroup contact theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90(5), 751. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ross, L. E., Dobinson, C., & Eady, A. (2010). Perceived determinants of mental health for bisexual people: A qualitative examination. American Journal of Public Health, 100(3), 496–502. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rust, P. C. (1993). Neutralizing the political threat of the marginal woman: Lesbian's beliefs about bisexual women. The Journal of Sex Research, 30(3), 214–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Spalding, L. R., & Peplau, L. A. (1997). The unfaithful lover: Heterosexuals' perceptions of bisexuals and their relationships. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 611–625. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Swan, D. J., & Habibi, S. (2015). Heterosexuals do it with feeling: Heterocentrism in heterosexual college Students' perceptions of female bisexuality and heterosexuality. Journal of Bisexuality, 15(3), 304–318. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Whitley, B. E., Wiederman, M. W., & Wryobeck, J. M. (1999). Correlates of heterosexual Men's eroticization of lesbianism. Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 11(1), 25–41. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Yost, M. R., & Thomas, G. D. (2012). Gender and binegativity: men's and women's attitudes toward male and female bisexuals. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41(3), 691–702. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Zivony, A., & Lobel, T. (2014). The invisible stereotypes of bisexual men. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 43(6), 1165–1176. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA
  2. 2.Northwestern UniversityFeinberg School of MedicineChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and WellbeingNorthwestern UniversityChicagoUSA

Personalised recommendations