Women are either bisexual or gay—but not straight—when it comes to what turns them on, according to new research from the University of Essex.
Yeah, that’s a bold claim—and we don’t blame you for taking it with a grain of salt.
Here’s how the study worked: Using eye-tracking devices, lead researcher Gerulf Rieger, Ph.D., and his team analyzed the pupils and physiological reactions of 345 women as the women viewed videos of attractive men and attractive women, according to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
In response to the sexual stimuli, 82 percent of all participants were aroused by both sexes; 74 percent of women who identified as “straight” were strongly sexually aroused by both men and women, while women who identified as lesbian showed “much stronger” sexual responses to their preferred sex (women) than their less-preferred sex (men).
“This shows us that how women appear in public does not mean that we know anything about their sexual role preferences,” Rieger wrote in the latest study.
The study hinges on associating pupil dilation with sexual excitement—that is to say, sexual excitement causes pupils to dilate. Sexual excitement in males and females can be marked by an increase in heart and breathing rate and a rise in blood pressure, among other things, according to a 2009 study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. Rieger also published a study in 2012 in the journal PLoS One, suggesting that pupil dilation is an accurate physiological indicator of sexual arousal.
This study builds off previous research that has found that women are generally sexually aroused by men and women to varying degrees (women all exist on a continuum, the theory goes; no one is purely gay or straight).
So make of this what you will. We’re just keepin’ you informed of the latest science.