An interesting study by Professor Richard Lippa of California State University examines the correlation of certain personality traits to both gender and sexuality. A highlight of some of the major findings:
Lesbian women were somewhat higher on openness and instrumentality than straight women were, and they were somewhat lower on neuroticism.
That surely seems to contradict a prevailing stereotype (usually pushed by religious conservatives ) that paints gay women as emotionally disturbed. Anyway, moving along, the study also finds:
As was true for the corresponding results for men, lesbian-straight female differences mirrored male-female differences—that is, traits that lesbians scored higher on than straight women were also traits that men scored higher on than women, and vice versa. The really big lesbian-straight female differences were for M-F of interests and self-ascribed M-F. Lesbian women had much more masculine occupational and hobby preferences than heterosexual women did. The effect size for this difference implies that 93% of lesbian women had interests that were more masculine than the average straight woman’s. Furthermore, lesbians rated themselves to be considerably more masculine and less feminine than straight women did. Thus, lesbians seemed to openly acknowledge and embrace their masculinity more than gay men acknowledged and embraced their femininity.
Why are there on-average homosexual-heterosexual differences in personality?
Furthermore, why do these differences tend to mirror gender differences in personality? One possibility is that there are biological factors (e.g., prenatal exposure to sex hormones) that cause both gender differences and sexual orientation differences in personality. This “essentialist” position holds that there are some innate personality differences between men and women and also between heterosexual and homosexual individuals, and the underlying factors that cause these two kinds of differences overlap. Other possibilities include various social-environmental explanations for homosexual-heterosexual differences in personality. For example, perhaps powerful gender and sexual orientation stereotypes mold individuals’ self-concepts and their gender-related traits and behaviors. In addition, subcultural norms, roles, and pressures may lead to different traits in heterosexual men, heterosexual women, gay men, and lesbian women. For example, macho peer norms often lead many teenage boys in our society to behave in very masculine ways, whereas gay and lesbian subcultures sometimes push their members to experiment with gender-bending roles that depart from normative masculinity and femininity (e.g., the campy gay man, the “bull dyke”).
Many thoughts a brewing over this, but I won’t be able to comment, unfortunately. To those few readers who still check out the Blitz, I’m considering a relaunching of efforts in June after wrap up my final year of undergrad and move to DC. I anticipate bringing more content on US foreign policy and the elections, but will remain devoted to stories on gay equality as always.