WHAT IS SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
Stief, Matthew ,
What is sexual orientation and how does it work? Despite the growth of a substantial research program in recent decades, basic questions remain about how sexual orientation is to be defined, what causes people to have different sexual orientations, and how sexual orientation varies between individuals and across different cultures. This dissertation addresses these questions from three different directions in three papers. The first paper examines the variability of sexual orientation across different degrees of bisexuality, and asks the question of whether the degree to which one is bisexual is associated with personality traits related to sexual openness. The paper presents data from two convenience samples gathered online in the Falls of 2010 and 2011, with sexual minorities over-sampled to achieve adequate statistical power over the entire Kinsey scale distribution. Study 1 found evidence that bisexuality was associated with elevated sexual sensation seeking and sexual excitability, and Study 2 found evidence for elevated sexual curiosity, and that this association was independent of the Big Five. The second paper examines whether the developmental contexts presented by different cultures lead to outcomes in sexual orientation and gender presentation. The paper presents data from field work conducted in the summer of 2015 in Mumbai, India, in which participants from three categories of sexual and gender minorities unique to India—hijra, kothi, and panthi—were interviewed about their sexual attractions, behavior, and gender atypicality. In addition, participants completed a computer-mediated image-rating task in which their viewing time of sexually attractive male and female swimsuit models was covertly measured. The third paper investigated whether sexual orientation “orients” the automatic capture of covert visual attention by images of nude men and women presented briefly (100ms) in peripheral vision. Data was gathered in the Spring of 2011. The sample consisted of heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual men and women (N = 78). We found that covert attention capture reflected the sexual orientation of heterosexual and homosexual men, bisexual men and women, and homosexual men. Heterosexual women, in contrast, had their attention captured by female images, contrary to their sexual orientation.
covert attention; hijra; kothi; panthi; sexual identity; sexual orientation; LGBTQ studies; Developmental psychology; Gender studies
Hazan, Cynthia; Boyd, Richard
Ph. D., Human Development
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis