Pupils Dilate When Attracted To A Person
Thanks to research done at Cornell University, a new study finds that pupil dilation is an accurate indicator of sexual orientation. Led by developmental psychologists Ritch Savin-Williams and Gerulf Rieger, the study recruited 165 men and 160 women, including gay, straight, and bisexual participants.
Here’s How It Worked
For the first time, Cornell University used a specialized infrared lens to measure pupilary changes to erotica. The gay men’s pupils dilated when shown a minute of man-on- man porn. The women had the same reaction to erotic images of men, and the straight men at videos of women. The bisexuals’ pupils dilated in response to both sexes. This is the first large-scale experiment to show that pupil dilation matches what people report feeling turned on by. The study was published this month in the scientific journal PLoS ONE, August 3 http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0040256) and proved for the first time that pupil dilation patterns are significant indicators of sexual orientation.
Easier Way to Study Sexual Orientation
Savin-Williams told Live Science that the pupils dilate slightly in response to any exciting or interesting stimulus that ramps up the autonomic nervous system; the response is automatic. This is a much easier way to study orientation and arousal than with genital measurements of blood flow and will encourage more research participants from different cultures. It is also more telling than just asking people about their sexuality.
However, the women in the study did present future problems as some who identified as heterosexual were equally aroused by both men and women, according to Savin-Williams, author of The New Gay Teenager.This result confirms previous research suggesting that women have a very different type of sexuality than men.
The findings from this experiment prove that bisexual men in the new study showed substantial pupil dilations to sexual videos of both men and women. Previously it had been thought that bisexual men based their sexual identity on romantic and identity issues, not their physiological sexual arousal.
Co-author Savin-Williams, Cornell Professor of Human Development, concludes that “we can now finally argue that a flexible sexual desire is not simply restricted to women – some men have it, too, and it is reflected in their pupils. In fact, not even a division into ‘straight,’ ‘bi,’ and ‘gay’ tells the full story. Men who identify as ‘mostly straight’ really exist both in their identity and their pupil response; they are more aroused to males than straight men, but much less so than both bisexual and gay men.”