Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 191–197 | Cite as

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

  • Lauren Beach
  • Elizabeth Bartelt
  • Brian DodgeEmail author
  • Wendy Bostwick
  • Vanessa Schick
  • Tsung-Chieh (Jane) Fu
  • M. Reuel Friedman
  • Debby Herbenick
Special Section: Bisexual Health


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.


Bisexuality Binegativity Sexual identity Meta-perceptions Sexual orientation 



The research team would like to thank the journal Editor, Dr. Kenneth J. Zucker, whose thorough feedback and editorial guidance greatly improved the quality of this paper. We would like to express their appreciation to the study participants.


Funding for the National Survey of Sexual Health & Behavior (NSSHB) is provided by Church & Dwight, Co., Inc. (Debby Herbenick, Principal Investigator). Additional funding for data collection using the BIAS in 2015 was awarded by Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington (Brian Dodge, Principal Investigator). During the writing of this manuscript, Lauren Beach was supported by the National Institute on Minority Health & Health Disparities grant L60 MD011099 (Lauren Beach, Principal Investigator) and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism grant R01 AA024409 (Gregory Phillips II, Principal Investigator). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Feinberg School of MedicineNorthwestern UniversityChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Center for Sexual Health Promotion, School of Public HealthIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Health Systems Science, College of NursingUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  4. 4.Department of Management, Policy and Community HealthUniversity of Texas Health Sciences CenterHoustonUSA
  5. 5.Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, Graduate School of Public HealthUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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