Sometimes researchers break the mould and get it right — other times their claims simply don’t add up. Jess examines a study which concludes that women are never heterosexual based on their pupil dilation response to sexual stimuli.
Check out the video and read through her additional notes below.
Jess has some concerns about this study’s findings:
- Pupil response doesn’t necessarily indicate sexual arousal or attraction. It’s possible that sexualized videos of women draw more attention and alertness – not necessarily arousal in all cases. Our pupils do dilate when sexually aroused, but their dilation is really by-product of the nervous system processing information. They dilate in response to light, in response to challenging math questions, in response to images of war. Their dilation is considered part of a fight or flight response.
- We create more space for female sexuality to be fluid, so it’s possible that women are more open to feeling aroused by images of other women even if they don’t identify as bisexual.
- The lead researcher asserts that women are “never straight”. I’m of the belief that you self-identify — it’s not just about action. Sexual orientation can relate to the emotional, psychological and relational attraction to men, women and all genders.
- I looked through the raw data in this study as well as their literature and it’s pretty questionable. For instance, to justify their pupil dilation measure as a verifiable indication of arousal, they reference pupil dilation as a sign of arousal by citing a homophobic Canadian project from the Cold War which was designed to keep gay men out of civil service jobs.
- The raw data itself shows that heterosexual women’s pupil dilation responses overall were lower — their overall response rate to men was lower than that of self-identified straight men to women. The lesser difference between their reactions to men versus women, which forms the basis for the researchers’ conclusion is predicated on a different baseline (dilation in response to the gender identified as their object of attraction) between the sexes.