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Study Finds People Can Identify Who's the Top and Who's the Bottom in Gay Couples

A study published in the April 2013 journal Archives of Sexual Behavior examined the perception of 'to' and 'bottom' roles in gay couples:

ModernfamilyIn intercourse between men, one of the partners typically assumes the role of an insertive partner (top) while the other assumes a receptive role (bottom). Although some research suggests that the perceptions of potential partners' sexual roles in gay men's relationships can affect whether a man will adopt the role of top or bottom during sexual intercourse, it remains unclear whether sexual roles could be perceived accurately by naïve observers.

In Study 1, we found that naïve observers were able to discern men's sexual roles from photos of their faces with accuracy that was significantly greater than chance guessing.

Moreover, 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.

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Comments

  1. Tops are as common as leprechauns and unicorns. Most gay men prefer to be penetrated, but they'll deny it (until king cobra comes slithering along).

    Posted by: Peter | Apr 8, 2013 12:29:59 PM


  2. Wow so much lame vitriol in this thread. Grow up. They showed some people pictures and asked them to guess, and then compared it to facts to come up with a mathematical set of data. Why the whining?

    Posted by: J Y | Apr 8, 2013 12:31:08 PM


  3. ...and can we tell by straight cpls - IF the wife sucks her hubbys cock, or wears a strap on to please him ??? STUPID STUDY...as someone above said- we aint lab rats !

    Posted by: disgusted america | Apr 8, 2013 12:33:34 PM


  4. Do they mean psychogical top or physical top?

    Might come as a surprise to the researchers and many readers of this blog but a lot of gay couples don't engage in anal sex at all.

    That said, there are still areas of dominance and submission in relationships. One might earn the most money and be financially dominant, but the other might run the household and be territory-dominant.

    But more importantly....

    WHY DOES THIS MATTER AT ALL????

    Posted by: johnny | Apr 8, 2013 12:33:42 PM


  5. With regard to perceptions of what is and is not masculine, I have known men (ahem) who considered being the receiving partner to be less masculine than being the inserting partner.

    Or, in less clinical language, "Real men put it in."

    Not saying that's how I think, just that I've encountered it.

    Posted by: jpeckjr | Apr 8, 2013 12:35:46 PM


  6. I'm really not offended by this study, because the concept of 'masculine' and 'feminine' is really genderless, and has insofar as certain genders have typically performed certain roles in different societies, the exact roles varies greatly in many societies.

    Westerners are not the norm throughout the world. We're the weird exceptions, and there's no reason why we shouldn't be comfortable with a man who is more 'feminine' than typical, or a female who is more masculine.

    Posted by: Ryan | Apr 8, 2013 12:41:03 PM


  7. Really? Will the next study be about which one is the "woman" and which one is the "man" in the relationship? This is nonsense.

    To say that it is "typically" the way gay men codify their sexual activity in relationships is ridiculous.

    Sometimes you feel like a top, sometimes you don't.

    I found, in my youth, that when someone asserted being a top or bottom, they were boring in bed.

    Posted by: misha | Apr 8, 2013 12:44:51 PM


  8. Folks, don't you get it?

    He's studying gaydar.

    Which we all know does not exist at all ever!

    Posted by: james | Apr 8, 2013 12:47:14 PM


  9. Naive observers??

    It's nobody's business who's a top or a bottom except the guys that are having sex.

    Do we wonder who is the dominant partner in hetero relationships? It's not always the man.

    Posted by: Jack M | Apr 8, 2013 1:01:11 PM


  10. I guess they never heard of versatility. Stereotyping BS.

    Posted by: RK | Apr 8, 2013 1:02:24 PM


  11. In my experience the one who's typically the top and the one who's typically the bottom are the opposite of what you think.

    Posted by: Ken | Apr 8, 2013 1:04:22 PM


  12. I've been out for almost twenty years and even I don't know if I'm a top or bottom. It changes based on the person. Which is why I have awesome sex.

    Posted by: Gregoire | Apr 8, 2013 1:55:54 PM


  13. I've never done a "scientific" study of homosexual behavior, but most of my gay friends seem to be pretty versitile.


    Posted by: andrew | Apr 8, 2013 1:56:25 PM


  14. One thing the study didn't mention is that after one year together, none of the couples were having any sex at all.

    Posted by: anon | Apr 8, 2013 2:01:10 PM


  15. Who cares what other people's sexual activities are? It's no one's business except the people having sex together. I think the research money could have been better spent elsewhere.

    Posted by: Jack | Apr 8, 2013 2:06:25 PM


  16. The researchers obviously solicited gay couples who dichotomize their relationship into top and bottom roles. This leaves out a huge variety of gay couples and so doesn't really tell us anything about gay relationships, only a single subset of them. I'm skeptical this relationship pattern is "typical", and I can only imagine heterocentrism is responsible for such attention to it.

    Posted by: Kyle | Apr 8, 2013 2:27:03 PM


  17. The researchers obviously solicited gay couples who dichotomize their relationship into top and bottom roles. This leaves out a huge variety of gay couples and so doesn't really tell us anything about gay relationships, only a single subset of them. I'm skeptical this relationship pattern is "typical", and I can only imagine heterocentrism is responsible for such attention to it.

    Posted by: Kyle | Apr 8, 2013 2:27:28 PM


  18. The researchers obviously solicited gay couples who dichotomize their relationship into top and bottom roles. This leaves out a huge variety of gay couples and so doesn't really tell us anything about gay relationships, only a single subset of them. I'm skeptical this relationship pattern is "typical", and I can only imagine heterocentrism is responsible for such attention to it.

    Posted by: Kyle | Apr 8, 2013 2:27:54 PM


  19. The researchers obviously solicited gay couples who dichotomize their relationship into top and bottom roles. This leaves out a huge variety of gay couples and so doesn't really tell us anything about gay relationships, only a single subset of them. I'm skeptical this relationship pattern is "typical", and I can only imagine heterocentrism is responsible for such attention to it.

    Posted by: Kyle | Apr 8, 2013 2:28:01 PM


  20. The researchers obviously solicited gay couples who dichotomize their relationship into top and bottom roles. This leaves out a huge variety of gay couples and so doesn't really tell us anything about gay relationships, only a single subset of them. I'm skeptical this relationship pattern is "typical", and I can only imagine heterocentrism is responsible for such attention to it.

    Posted by: Kyle | Apr 8, 2013 2:28:16 PM


  21. Usually the hunky muscular one with the sparkling eyes is the bottom, while the more average looking or non primping one is the top.

    Posted by: ty | Apr 8, 2013 2:46:24 PM


  22. Usually the hunky muscular one with the sparkling eyes is the bottom, while the more average looking or non primping one is the top.

    Posted by: ty | Apr 8, 2013 2:46:29 PM


  23. Usually the hunky muscular one with the sparkling eyes is the bottom, while the more average looking or non primping one is the top.

    Posted by: ty | Apr 8, 2013 2:46:41 PM


  24. All blondes are bottoms.
    All marines are bottoms.
    All bisexuals are bottoms.
    All the guys in DC are bottoms.
    I have heard it all.

    Posted by: Dhearne | Apr 8, 2013 2:52:34 PM


  25. All blondes are bottoms.
    All marines are bottoms.
    All bisexuals are bottoms.
    All the guys in DC are bottoms.
    I have heard it all.

    Posted by: Hogotha | Apr 8, 2013 2:53:00 PM


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