Perceptions of instability and choice across sexual orientation groups

Sara E. Burke, Marianne LaFrance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Some have described gay and lesbian people as making a “lifestyle choice” while others assert that bisexuality is not a stable or valid identity. This paper examines the possibility that perceived instability and perceived choice, and their associations with prejudice, differ depending on both the sexual orientation of the participant and the target group. Participants varying in sexual orientation were randomly assigned to evaluate heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual targets. Results indicated that negative evaluation of the various target groups was more closely associated with perceived instability than it was with perceived choice. This relationship was moderated by both participant and target sexual orientation; for example, it was weaker for bisexual targets, whose sexual orientations were rated as unstable even among nonbisexual participants who evaluated them positively. A more nuanced understanding of the beliefs underlying prejudice against sexual minorities can be developed by considering targets and participants of many sexual orientations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-279
Number of pages23
JournalGroup Processes and Intergroup Relations
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • bisexual
  • choice
  • prejudice
  • sexual orientation
  • stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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