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Mostly Straight_CatalystCon East 2014

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The largest sexual minority group is not gays, lesbians, or bisexuals. It’s the “mostly straights” – those with a slight degree of same-sex interests who are not exclusively straight, but not same-sex …

The largest sexual minority group is not gays, lesbians, or bisexuals. It’s the “mostly straights” – those with a slight degree of same-sex interests who are not exclusively straight, but not same-sex oriented ‘enough’ to consider themselves or to be considered by others as bisexual. Mostly straights are typically ignored and lumped together with either heterosexuals or bisexuals in research, clinical practice, and education. However, recent research shows that mostly straights form a unique sexual orientation group that is distinct from both exclusive heterosexuals and more substantial bisexuals in their sexual orientation profile as well as a number of different personality characteristics, life experiences, attitudes toward sexuality, and health outcomes and behaviors.

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  • 1. “Mostly Straight”: A New Sexual Orientation Group ~CatalystCon East 2014~ Zhana Vrangalova, PhD New York University @ZhanaVrangalova Ritch C. Savin-Williams, PhD Cornell University
  • 2. What’s Your Sexual Orientation? Heterosexual Bisexual Gay/Lesbian
  • 3. What’s Your Sexual Orientation? Heterosexual Mostly Heterosexual Bisexual Mostly Gay/Lesbian Gay/Lesbian
  • 4. What’s Your Sexual Orientation? Heterosexual Mostly Heterosexual Bisexual Leaning Heterosexual Bisexual Bisexual Leaning Gay/Lesbian Mostly Gay/Lesbian Gay/Lesbian
  • 5. What’s Your Sexual Orientation? 0 50 100 Heterosexual Gay/LesbianBisexual
  • 6. Sexual orientation distribution • Theoretically, a continuum across various SO indicators (attraction, arousal, fantasy, behavior, identity) • Practically, 3 groups: Hetero, Bi, & Gay/Lesbian • Until recently, MHs either not assessed or not analyzed separately; – Treated as heterosexual (most common) – Treated as bisexual – Treated as nonheterosexual • Recently, more research on MHs as a separate group
  • 7. What does it mean you’re Mostly Hetero? • Actually slightly attracted to same-sex • Interest in women vs. men different quality • Just trying to be politically correct (“straight but not narrow”) • It’s more about friendly/romantic love • Aesthetic judgment (“I can tell they’re attractive, but I’m not attracted to them”) • Open to future possibilities (“Straight until the right guy comes along”) • Confused • Other…?
  • 8. Josh Hutcherson "I would probably list myself as mostly straight. But who knows? In a fucking year, I could meet a guy and be like, 'Whoa, I'm attracted to this person … I've met guys all the time that I'm like, 'Damn, that's a good-looking guy,' you know? But I think defining yourself as 100% anything is kind of near-sighted and close-minded."
  • 9. “I’m heterosexual with...” Some bisexual tendencies Slight homosexual feelings Some homosexual experience Most of my sex with opposite-sex Somewhat attracted same-sex others Attracted/Aroused slightly to same-sex
  • 10. Identity, Attraction, Fantasy, Feelings, Desires, Eroticism, Sex Partners, Crushes, Romance  What minimal percent—1%? 5%? 10%?  What percent is too much & is bisexual?  Should sex count or too circumstantial?  What is most, slight, primarily, ever?  And, what about those “pesky” nonexclusive heterosexuals?
  • 11. Mostly Heterosexual Prevalence  Larger than all other nonheterosexuals combined (for both sexes)  Across definitions, ages, subgroups:  Females: 4% to 24%, 9% median  Males: 2% to 9%, 4% median
  • 12. Men (Savin-Williams, Joyner, & Rieger, 2012) Figure 1. Change in sexual orientation identity between waves. Wave 3 Wave 4 Men N = 5,527 (Kendall's Tau-B = 0.646***) 100%$heterosexual$ 100%$heterosexual N = 5,204 (94.16%) N = 5,159 (93.34%) Mostly$heterosexual Mostly$heterosexual N = 174 (3.15%) N = 184 (3.33%) Bisexual Bisexual N = 36 (0.65%) N = 29 (0.52%) Mostly$homosexual Mostly$homosexual N = 40 (0.72%) N = 51 (0.92%) 100%$homosexual 100%$homosexual N = 73 (1.32%) N = 104 (1.88%) 5,064 105 1116 82 71 6 8 85 8 10 3 0 2 58 58 8 7 5 5 18 17 0 0 10
  • 13. Women Women N = 6,556 (Kendall's Tau-B = 0.484***) 100%$heterosexual$ 100%$heterosexual N = 5,649 (86.17%) N = 5,287 (80.64%) Mostly$heterosexual Mostly$heterosexual N = 676 (10.31%) N = 1013 (15.45%) Bisexual Bisexual N = 167 (2.55%) N = 147 (2.24%) Mostly$homosexual Mostly$homosexual N = 34 (0.52%) N = 49 (0.75%) 100%$homosexual 100%$homosexual N = 30 (0.46%) N = 60 (0.92%) 4,981 585 589 268 357 39 6 67 30 15 45 2 1 0 22 58 16 6 10 6 13 7 3 5 5 (Savin-Williams, Joyner, & Rieger, 2012)
  • 14. Stability  50% over time between early adolescence to adulthood  Stability lower than straights  Stability higher than bisexual  Come & go from straights, not gay, lesbian, or bisexual
  • 15. Genital Arousal* Viewing Time Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Eye-Tracking Eye Dilation* “free of conscious control of self- representation & social desirability”
  • 16. The Eyes Have It
  • 17. Eye Dilation  Emotionally arousing  Intensive aspect of attention  Positive affect  Immune: social desirability & social stigma  “Processes that occur below the threshold of consciousness” (Laeng et al., 2012, p. 18)
  • 18. Eye Dilation & Tracking
  • 19. Eye Dilation & Tracking
  • 20. Sexually Explicit Stimulus  Mild and not explicit (avoid disgust)  Limited models (but “attractive”)  Validated with genital arousal  Less intrusive and comprehensive  Consistent with other research, doesn’t work with women (romantic, verbal, stories, menstrual cycle)
  • 21. p = .05 d = .58 p = .57 d = .13
  • 22. p = .28 d = .36 p = .12 d = .56
  • 23. Penis & Eyes  MS more attracted to men than Straights without giving up their attractions to women  MS slightly less attracted to men and more attracted to women than Bisexual-Straights
  • 24. Mostly Straight?
  • 25. Mostly Straight?
  • 26. Brendon Urie: Panic! At The Disco I find myself being attracted to dudes all the time. I'm like, "Wow, that's a beautiful man." There's no shame in it; that's how I feel. I guess if I had to classify myself, I'd say I'm straight. But I have, in the past, experimented in other realms of homosexuality and bisexuality. I'm just so insanely in love and attracted to my wife. "Well, OK, my love of musicals can't trump that I love pussy.”
  • 27. Psychological & Health Profile of Mostly Straights • Meta-analysis • 60 studies, 1991-2013 • 22 samples – most population-based – From 5 Western countries (US, UK, Australia, Norway, & Canada) • MH vs. H and MH vs. B (Vrangalova & Savin-Williams, 2014, Annual Review of Sex Research)
  • 28. Psychological & Health Profile of Mostly Straights Mostly Hetero vs. Hetero Mostly Hetero vs. Bisexual Mean # samples Mean # samples Depression, suicidality, anxiety Higher 11-14 Lower 8-11 Body image problems/ Disordered eating Higher 3-4 Lower 2-4 Sexual health (STIs, teen pregnancy, abnormal PAP) Higher 2-6 Lower (m); Similar (w) 2-5 Substance use Higher 9-11 Similar 6-8 Sexual risk taking (early onset, multiple partners, condom nonuse) Higher 7-11 Lower 5-8 Victimization (sexual, nonsexual) Higher 8-11 Lower 8-10 Stressful/Risky environments Higher 3-6 Similar 2-4 Personal & social relatedness Lower 4-7 Higher (m); Similar (w) 4-6 SES (education, income) Higher 4-7 Higher 3-5
  • 29. Why are MHs doing worse than heterosexuals? • Many possible explanations, very little evidence to evaluate them – Minority stress hypothesis – Nonheterosexual lifestyles – Common causes • Biological • Environmental – Nonheteros more likely to admit to negative things – Any other…?
  • 30. Funding Support American Institute of Bisexuality Federal Formula Funds

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