Meta-Perceptions of Others' Attitudes Toward Bisexual Men and Women Among a Nationally Representative Probability Sample

Arch Sex Behav. 2019 Jan;48(1):191-197. doi: 10.1007/s10508-018-1347-8. Epub 2018 Nov 16.


Researchers posit that negative attitudes, prejudice, and discrimination (i.e., binegativity) from heterosexual and gay/lesbian individuals may contribute to health disparities among bisexual individuals relative to heterosexual and gay/lesbian individuals. Recent studies have focused on gay, lesbian, and heterosexual people's (e.g., "others") attitudes toward bisexual people. No studies have investigated how bisexual individuals perceive others' attitudes toward bisexual people, which are generally known as "meta-perceptions." As part of the 2015 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, we collected data from a nationally representative probability sample of 2999 adults, including from a subsample of 33 men and 61 women self-identified as bisexual. The Bisexualities: Indiana Attitudes Scale-bisexual (BIAS-b), a modified 5-item scale assessing bisexual people's perceptions of others' attitudes toward bisexual individuals, was included and was followed by an open-ended text box question. Quantitative scale data were analyzed using descriptive and gamma regression methods. Two coders thematically analyzed the open-ended text box data. The internal consistency of the BIAS-b was high (Cronbach's α = 0.85). An exploratory factor analysis supported a one-factor solution. Participants responded to statements regarding others' attitudes toward them as bisexual people, including the domains of confusion, HIV/STD risk, incapability of monogamy, promiscuity, and instability ("just a phase"). Participants' text box descriptions largely aligned with these five domains, with the exception of HIV/STD risk. Additionally, some participants reported others' positive perceptions of them as bisexual individuals. In sum, we observed a range of meta-perceptions, primarily neutral to negative, but also including some relatively positive. These results show the need for interventions to promote acceptance of bisexual individuals among heterosexual and gay/lesbian individuals.

Keywords: Binegativity; Bisexuality; Meta-perceptions; Sexual identity; Sexual orientation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude
  • Bisexuality / psychology*
  • Female
  • Homosexuality, Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Perception
  • Sampling Studies
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*