Gay 'Top' And 'Bottom' Roles Generalized By Stereotypes, Archives Of Sexual Behavior Study Finds

Can You Tell Who Is A 'Top' Or A 'Bottom' Simply By Looking At A Person?

A new study aims to reveal new details about the much-debated topic of "top" and "bottom" roles in intimate gay relationships.

"Accurate Identification of a Preference for Insertive Versus Receptive Intercourse from Static Facial Cues of Gay Men," which is published in the April 2013 edition of Archives of Sexual Behavior, found that "observers were able to discern men's sexual roles from photos of their faces with accuracy that was significantly greater than chance guessing."

The article continues:

"In Study 2, we determined that the relationship between men’s perceived and actual sexual roles was mediated by perceived masculinity. Together, these results suggest that people rely on perceptions of characteristics relevant to stereotypical male–female gender roles and heterosexual relationships to accurately infer sexual roles in same-sex relationships.

Thus, same-sex relationships and sexual behavior may be perceptually framed, understood, and possibly structured in ways similar to stereotypes about opposite-sex relationships, suggesting that people may rely on these inferences to form accurate perceptions."

You can check out the full journal article here.

Researchers Konstantin O. Tskhay and Nicholas O. Rule noted that the "findings are interesting because they suggest that people may tend to generalize theirstereotypical perceptions of heterosexual gender roles to other forms of sexual relationships."

"People may therefore interpret a variety of relationships through the lens of conventional male–female sexual dichotomies," they added, noting that it was possible that "similar effects could be observed in non-sexual relationships, such as friendships and more general interpersonal interactions."

As Scientific American pointed out in 2009, a team of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-affiliated scientists led a similar study on sexual roles among gay men. That study, which was titled "Sexual behavior among HIV-positive men who have sex with men: what's in a label?" and first published in a 2003 issue of The Journal of Sex Research, found that self-labels were meaningfully correlated with actual sexual behaviors.

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