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Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Emotion and Gender Typicality Cue Sexual Orientation Differently in Women and Men
Author(s): Bjornsdottir, R Thora
Rule, Nicholas O
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Keywords: Sexual orientation
Face perception
Issue Date: Oct-2020
Date Deposited: 19-Jul-2023
Citation: Bjornsdottir RT & Rule NO (2020) Emotion and Gender Typicality Cue Sexual Orientation Differently in Women and Men. <i>Archives of Sexual Behavior</i>, 49 (7), pp. 2547-2560.
Abstract: Heterosexual individuals tend to look and act more typical for their gender compared to gay and lesbian individuals, and people use this information to infer sexual orientation. Consistent with stereotypes associating happy expressions with femininity, previous work found that gay men displayed more happiness than straight men—a difference that perceivers used, independent of gender typicality, to judge sexual orientation. Here, we extended this to judgments of women’s sexual orientation. Like the gender-inversion stereotypes applied to men, participants perceived women’s faces manipulated to look angry as more likely to be lesbians; however, emotional expressions largely did not distinguish the faces of actual lesbian and straight women. Compared to men’s faces, women’s faces varied less in their emotional expression (appearing invariably positive) but varied more in gender typicality. These differences align with gender role expectations requiring the expression of positive emotion by women and prohibiting the expression of femininity by men. More important, greater variance within gender typicality and emotion facilitates their respective utility for distinguishing sexual orientation from facial appearance. These findings thus provide the first evidence for contrasting cues to women’s and men’s sexual orientation and suggest that gender norms may uniquely shape how men and women reveal their sexual orientation.
DOI Link: 10.1007/s10508-020-01700-3
Rights: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
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