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Bisexuality Study

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

This is DAY TO DAY from NPR News. I'm Alex Chadwick.

Men who say that they're bisexual may not be telling the truth. That conclusion can be drawn from a new scientific study. Researchers at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, tested 100 self-defined gay, straight and bisexual men by showing them erotic movies. None of the bisexual men was aroused by both gay and straight imagery. DAY TO DAY's Madeleine Brand spoke with the study's lead researcher, Michael Bailey.

Professor MICHAEL BAILEY (Northwestern University): In this kind of study, you can tell who's gay and who's straight almost perfectly by their sexual arousal profile. Gay men get sexually aroused to male stimuli, and straight men get aroused to female stimuli. And if male bisexuality exists, then the bisexual guy should be getting aroused to both, but they don't. Most bisexual men in our study had a profile similar to that of gay men.

MADELEINE BRAND reporting:

So what does that mean? Does it mean that they are self-deluded?

Prof. BAILEY: Well, I think it might mean various things. Some of these guys might just be meaning something else than we mean by the word `bisexual.' They might mean, for example, that they really like women, perhaps they even have romantic feelings or feelings of love attachment to women. Some, I think, might be self-deluded and some might just be misrepresenting what they feel.

BRAND: Of course, your study contradicts thousands of years of practice--the ancient Greeks come to mind--theories by such notables as Sigmund Freud and Dr. Alfred Kinsey.

Prof. BAILEY: We do not deny that some men have had sex with both men and women. In some historical periods, perhaps that was pretty common. One can't just look at behavior; you have to look at the reasons why people are engaging in bisexual behavior. And we're saying that those reasons do not include having a bisexual orientation.

BRAND: Michael Bailey is a professor of psychology at Northwestern University.

Thank you for joining us.

Prof. BAILEY: Thank you.

CHADWICK: And that interview by DAY TO DAY's Madeleine Brand. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.