He or she

Kevin Lewis

February 27, 2016

Fat Chance! Experiences and Expectations of Antifat Bias in the Gay Male Community

Olivia Foster-Gimbel & Renee Engeln

Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, forthcoming

Although popular culture suggests that weight-based prejudice is especially common among gay men, no studies have examined this issue empirically. In Study 1, we explored experiences of antifat bias among gay men and the body image correlates of these experiences. Participants (215 gay men, ranging in age from 18 to 78) completed measures of antifat bias, body image disturbance, and open-ended questions about their experience with antifat bias. Over one third of gay men (many of whom were not overweight using common body mass index [BMI] guidelines) reported directly experiencing antifat bias. The most common type of antifat bias reported was rejection by potential romantic partners on the basis of weight. Both experiencing and witnessing antifat bias was associated with several types of body image disturbance. As a follow-up to Study 1, Study 2 compared gay and heterosexual college men’s expectations of antifat bias from a potential romantic partner. Participants rated how likely certain outcomes would be if they saw an overweight man hit on an attractive target (a man for gay participants or a woman for heterosexual participants). Gay men reported greater likelihood that the overweight man would be blatantly ignored, treated rudely, or mocked behind his back if he approached an attractive potential romantic partner. These studies suggest that antifat bias is a challenge for many members of the gay community, even those who are not technically overweight. Additionally, gay men expect other gay men to show these antifat biases when looking for a romantic partner.


The Political Divide Over Same-Sex Marriage: Mating Strategies in Conflict?

David Pinsof & Martie Haselton

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Although support for same-sex marriage has grown dramatically over the past decade, public opinion remains markedly divided. Here, we propose that the political divide over same-sex marriage represents a deeper divide between conflicting mating strategies. Specifically, we propose that opposition to same-sex marriage can be explained in terms of (a) individual differences in short-term mating orientation and (b) mental associations between homosexuality and sexual promiscuity. We created a novel Implicit Association Test to measure mental associations between homosexuality and promiscuity. We found that mental associations between homosexuality and promiscuity, at both the implicit and the explicit levels, interacted with short-term mating orientation to predict opposition to same-sex marriage. Our model accounted for 42.3% of the variation in attitudes toward same-sex marriage, and all predictors remained robust when we controlled for potential confounds. Our results reveal the centrality of mating psychology in attitudes toward same-sex marriage.


Prenatal androgen exposure alters girls' responses to information indicating gender-appropriate behavior

Melissa Hines et al.

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 19 February 2016

Individual variability in human gender-related behaviour is influenced by many factors, including androgen exposure prenatally, as well as self-socialization and socialization by others postnatally. Many studies have looked at these types of influences in isolation, but little is known about how they work together. Here, we report that girls exposed to high concentrations of androgens prenatally, because they have the genetic condition congenital adrenal hyperplasia, show changes in processes related to self-socialization of gender-related behaviour. Specifically, they are less responsive than other girls to information that particular objects are for girls and they show reduced imitation of female models choosing particular objects. These findings suggest that prenatal androgen exposure may influence subsequent gender-related behaviours, including object (toy) choices, in part by changing processes involved in the self-socialization of gendered behaviour, rather than only by inducing permanent changes in the brain during early development. In addition, the findings suggest that some of the behavioural effects of prenatal androgen exposure might be subject to alteration by postnatal socialization processes. The findings also suggest a previously unknown influence of early androgen exposure on later processes involved in self-socialization of gender-related behaviour, and thus expand understanding of the developmental systems regulating human gender development.


Gender Role Discrepancy Stress, High-Risk Sexual Behavior, and Sexually Transmitted Disease

Dennis Reidy et al.

Archives of Sexual Behavior, February 2016, Pages 459-465

Nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections occur every year in the United States. Traditionally, men have demonstrated much greater risk for contraction of and mortality from STDs perhaps because they tend to engage in a number of risky sexual activities. Research on masculinity suggests that gender roles influence males’ sexual health by encouraging risk-taking behavior, discouraging access to health services, and narrowly defining their roles as partners. However, despite the propensity of highly masculine men to engage in high-risk sexual behavior, there is reason to suspect that men at the other end of the continuum may still be driven to engage in similar high-risk behaviors as a consequence of gender socialization. Discrepancy stress is a form of gender role stress that occurs when men fail to live up to the ideal manhood derived from societal prescriptions (i.e., Gender Role Discrepancy). In the present study, we surveyed a national sample of 600 men via Amazon Mechanical Turk to assess perceived gender role discrepancy, experience of discrepancy stress, and the associations with risky sexual behavior and potential contraction of STDs. Results indicated that men who believe they are less masculine than the typical man (i.e., gender role discrepancy) and experience distress stemming from this discrepancy (i.e., discrepancy stress) engage in high-risk sexual behavior and are subsequently diagnosed with more STDs. Findings are discussed in relation to implications for primary prevention strategies.


Sexual orientation and sexual assault victimization among US college students

Lee Michael Johnson, Todd Matthews & Sarah Napper Social

Science Journal, forthcoming

Sexual victimization continues to be a problem on college campuses across the United States. Research on risk focuses on victimization of heterosexual women while that of sexual minority students is under-studied. The current study uses National College Health Assessment data to examine the relationship between sexual identity and four measures of self-reported sexual victimization. Several victimization correlates identified in prior research are included in analyses. Logistic regression results show that gay men and bisexual men and women were more likely compared to heterosexuals to report all four victimization types, and unsure students are more likely to report three types. However, lesbian students are no more likely than heterosexual students to report any sexual victimization. Also, transgendered students were more likely compared to female students to report three victimization types.


Johnny Depp, Reconsidered: How Category-Relative Processing Fluency Determines the Appeal of Gender Ambiguity

Helen Owen et al.

PLoS ONE, February 2016

Individuals that combine features of both genders – gender blends – are sometimes appealing and sometimes not. Heretofore, this difference was explained entirely in terms of sexual selection. In contrast, we propose that part of individuals’ preference for gender blends is due to the cognitive effort required to classify them, and that such effort depends on the context in which a blend is judged. In two studies, participants judged the attractiveness of male-female morphs. Participants did so after classifying each face in terms of its gender, which was selectively more effortful for gender blends, or classifying faces on a gender-irrelevant dimension, which was equally effortful for gender blends. In both studies, gender blends were disliked when, and only when, the faces were first classified by gender, despite an overall preference for feminine features in all conditions. Critically, the preferences were mediated by the effort of stimulus classification. The results suggest that the variation in attractiveness of gender-ambiguous faces may derive from context-dependent requirements to determine gender membership. More generally, the results show that the difficulty of resolving social category membership – not just attitudes toward a social category – feed into perceivers’ overall evaluations toward category members.


Establishing a link between sex-related differences in the structural connectome and behavior

Birkan Tunç et al.

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 19 February 2016

Recent years have witnessed an increased attention to studies of sex differences, partly because such differences offer important considerations for personalized medicine. While the presence of sex differences in human behaviour is well documented, our knowledge of their anatomical foundations in the brain is still relatively limited. As a natural gateway to fathom the human mind and behaviour, studies concentrating on the human brain network constitute an important segment of the research effort to investigate sex differences. Using a large sample of healthy young individuals, each assessed with diffusion MRI and a computerized neurocognitive battery, we conducted a comprehensive set of experiments examining sex-related differences in the meso-scale structures of the human connectome and elucidated how these differences may relate to sex differences at the level of behaviour. Our results suggest that behavioural sex differences, which indicate complementarity of males and females, are accompanied by related differences in brain structure across development. When using subnetworks that are defined over functional and behavioural domains, we observed increased structural connectivity related to the motor, sensory and executive function subnetworks in males. In females, subnetworks associated with social motivation, attention and memory tasks had higher connectivity. Males showed higher modularity compared to females, with females having higher inter-modular connectivity. Applying multivariate analysis, we showed an increasing separation between males and females in the course of development, not only in behavioural patterns but also in brain structure. We also showed that these behavioural and structural patterns correlate with each other, establishing a reliable link between brain and behaviour.


Are All the Nice Guys Gay? The Impact of Sociability and Competence on the Social Perception of Male Sexual Orientation

Dirk Kranz, Katharina Pröbstle & Alkis Evidis

Psychology of Men & Masculinity, forthcoming

Using a person perception paradigm, two studies explored the interplay between target males’ sociability and competence (the “big two” personality dimensions), gender role, and sexual orientation. Study 1 (N = 180) showed that sociable men were considered more likely to be gay than were competent men, which was mediated by the attribution of lower masculinity. In Study 2 (N = 120), target sexual orientation was considered as an independent variable. In the stereotype-congruent condition (gay/sociable vs. heterosexual/competent), gay men were rated more feminine and less masculine than were heterosexual men, whereas in the stereotype-incongruent condition (gay/competent vs. heterosexual/sociable), gay targets were rated less feminine but only equally masculine. Across both studies, the apparent stereotype of the “nice gay guy” was uncorrelated with participants’ attitudes toward or contact with gay men. Results are discussed with regard to the gender-inversion hypothesis, the distinction between (anti)gay stereotypes and prejudice, and the stereotype content model.


Moderate Effects of Same-Sex Legislation on Dependent Employer-Based Insurance Coverage Among Sexual Minorities

Linda Diem Tran

Medical Care Research and Review, forthcoming

A difference-in-difference approach was used to compare the effects of same-sex domestic partnership, civil union, and marriage policies on same- and different-sex partners who could have benefitted from their partners’ employer-based insurance (EBI) coverage. Same-sex partners had 78% lower odds (Marginal Effect = −21%) of having EBI compared with different-sex partners, adjusting for socioeconomic and health-related factors. Same-sex partners living in states that recognized same-sex marriage or domestic partnership had 89% greater odds of having EBI compared with those in states that did not recognize same-sex unions (ME = 5%). The impact of same-sex legislation on increasing take-up of dependent EBI coverage among lesbians, gay men, and bisexual individuals was modest, and domestic partnership legislation was equally as effective as same-sex marriage in increasing same-sex partner EBI coverage. Extending dependent EBI coverage to same-sex partners can mitigate gaps in coverage for a segment of the lesbians, gay men, and bisexual population but will not eliminate them.


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