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But with society’s attitudes toward gays and lesbians changing, it’s become all the more important to build a holistic understanding of the relationships between gay and straight people.
As a researcher in social psychology, I’ve often wondered: why During the course of my research, I’ve discovered that the most interesting, compelling – and, arguably, most theoretically coherent – explanation is through the lens of evolution.
With heterosexual men (who, by definition, are sexually attracted to women), the process is longer – and potentially more fraught – because men may be grappling with their own sexual impulses.
In other words, because gay men are attracted to their own gender, they’re a “safe bet” for women – at least, from a sociobiological standpoint.
We had women read this news article and then indicate how much they would trust a straight woman or a gay man in various dating-related scenarios.
When women read the news article about the increased competition, their trust in gay men was amplified.
The experiments, published in the journal , demonstrated that straight women and gay men perceived one another to be trustworthy sources of relationship and dating advice.
To test this, we created a fake news article that detailed extremely skewed sex ratios, indicating that women in college were competing over a very small pool of men.
As expected, the female subjects seemed to perceive the judgments coming from the gay man to be more sincere because they knew that he wouldn’t have any ulterior motives – whether that meant wooing the subject (which they might suspect of straight men) or competing for the same romantic partner (straight women).
For the final two studies, we wanted to figure out when women were most likely to befriend and place their trust in gay men.
The female participants were then asked how likely they would be to trust the individual’s dating advice.
I also recruited gay male participants, and had them complete the same task (with the gay men viewing Facebook profiles depicting a straight female, gay male or lesbian female).