Study: Male Bisexuality Does Exist


A new study from researchers at Northwestern University has shown that men identifying as bisexual do in fact respond sexually to both men and women. This will be unsurprising to bisexual men and indeed the wider population, but it is significant because a previous and much cited 2005 Northwestern study concluded that evidence for male bisexuality was lacking and that bisexual-identifying men may in fact just be closeted homosexuals.

Critics charged the 2005 study failed to use appropriately stringent recruiting criteria because participants were recruited through advertisements in gay-oriented publications and were allowed to self-identify. This, critics say, led to a biased result.

Northwestern’s latest findings however suggest that bisexual-identifying men display clear physical signs of arousal when shown both male and female erotic material.

From the New York Times:

In the new study, published online in the journal Biological Psychology, the researchers relied on more stringent criteria for selecting participants. To improve their chances of finding men aroused by women as well as men, the researchers recruited subjects from online venues specifically catering to bisexuals.

They also required participants to have had sexual experiences with at least two people of each sex and a romantic relationship of at least three months with at least one person of each sex.


In both [the 2005 study and the latest investigation], men watched videos of male and female same-sex intimacy while genital sensors monitored their erectile responses. While the first study reported that the bisexuals generally resembled homosexuals in their responses, the new one finds that bisexual men responded to both the male and female videos, while gay and straight men in the study did not.

Both studies also found that bisexuals reported subjective arousal to both sexes, notwithstanding their genital responses. “Someone who is bisexual might say, ‘Well, duh!’” said Allen Rosenthal, the lead author of the new Northwestern study and a doctoral student in psychology at the university. “But this will be validating to a lot of bisexual men who had heard about the earlier work and felt that scientists weren’t getting them.”

This is the second study this year to investigate bisexuality among men in terms of their physical responses to erotic stimuli. The study by Archives of Sexual Behavior that was released in March approached the question differently but again found both subjective and physical arousal occurred when men identifying as bisexual were exposed to both male and female erotica. You can read more on that over at the New York Times.

The latest Northwestern study has largely been welcomed by groups representing bisexual men who say it is edifying to have the scientific method confirm what they have known all along. However, critics point out that reducing sexuality to a mere physical response does not illuminate the extremely complex factors that make up sexuality as a whole.

Researchers are also keen to stress that measuring physical responses to erotic stimuli in the laboratory is problematic and does not directly compare to everyday human interaction, though it does still aid our understanding.

The Northwestern University study did not examine bisexuality among women, though this is a subject that has been explored by previous studies. A study released in 2008, for instance, said that empirical data suggests bisexuality among women is a fixed sexuality that is not just a transitional stage between heterosexuality and homosexuality, as had been theorized in the past based on anecdotal evidence.

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Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to brainchildvn.


Matthew K.
Matthew K.5 years ago

More thoughts. I do think bisexual men and women have probably similar brains. It is very odd but I have intuitively been attracted to bisexual women, and have had a sharp "bidar" for bisexual guys. Most bisexual men will identify as straight with some identifying as gay only to later discover their orientation. This is a deeply closeted and invisible reality. The previous study of bisexual men whose test results suggested gay straight and asexual responses may be "gay" men who are very hetero-romantic but not as much sexually orientated bisexual, straight men who have had sex with men but not strongly attracted to men, the asexual responses might be that certain types of porn don't turn them on, then there are a variety of other things that could turn a person on, tone of voice, personality, physical touch, loving people and much much more. The truth is we may have these catagories but these catagories are really limited as to all the variety of people in the world. But really many many people think in strict binary catagories.

Matthew K.
Matthew K.5 years ago

As a bisexual man the study comes as a relief. I have been out for 23 years and since the last study I have been put under bizarre scrutiny and harassment for simply staring the identity. And then if you wish to bother I need to list off all the men and women I dated. These were my peers in the art world. I was also harassed via online dating (gay men & straw straight woman). But right before the news I found a very beautiful bisexual woman who is loving compassionate and kind. We LGBT people have the right to be out of closet to find the person we are meant to be with.

Katie C.
.6 years ago

Why make a study on this? Of course there are bisexuals, gays, lesbians, transgender, pansexuals, asexuals you name it.. Maybe the money could have gone to supporting the LGBT community? also "empirical data suggests bisexuality among women is a fixed sexuality" erm of course. I'm Bisexual, honestly the money could have been used to stop phobic and hate crime

Rin S.
Rin S6 years ago

*clap clap clap* Right, because no one believed it existed before...

colleen p.
colleen p6 years ago

half of all people's orginal characters are bisexual males. so they knew this already.

Sonny Honrado
Sonny Honrado6 years ago


Lilithe Magdalene

@maryam - It says that you have a very creative way of connecting unrelated dots.

Gloria Morotti
Gloria Morotti6 years ago

Men are engineered by God to react sexually to almost anything. They don't have to spend 9 months pregnant, go through childbirth, be responsible for raising a child for at least 18 years. Can we look at Mother Nature and stop making a big deal out of the fact that men will have sex with other men, with woman, with a stale doughnut?

Christina C.
Christina C.6 years ago

Thanks for this piece of work - I always did find that past study a bit curious for its conclusion that no males were bi. It makes me wonder how the methodology of both studies differed, though, since it could reveal that perhaps one way of supposedly arousing men does not arouse the bisexual ones in a way we expect.

I don't see how this research was a waste of money, any more than any other study of sexuality. Figuring out a methodology that is appropriate to test the matter at hand is extremely important.

Morgan Getham
Morgan Getham6 years ago

Duh. Someone deserves a Fox Badge* on this one.

(*Fox Badge: Award given to people who hav e a flair for the obvious.)