A new study suggests a much larger segment of the population has some level of same-sex sexual attraction and is only prepared to admit it if no one can find out who they are.
Researchers at Ohio State University and Boston University conducted an experiment with 2,516 Americans where they were randomly separated into two groups.
One group were given a private and anonymous computer survey, whereas the other group was given a survey that further concealed their responses using a so-called ‘veiled’ method.
According to the researchers, ‘the veiled method increased self-reports of non-heterosexual identity by 65% and same-sex sexual experiences by 59%
The researchers concluded that the results show that ‘non-heterosexuality … [is] substantially underestimated in existing surveys.’
When asked directly ‘Do you consider yourself to be heterosexual,’ 11% of participants said they did not consider themselves heterosexual.
However when asked indirectly to agree with the statement in a scale of 0 to 4 19% of participants did not agree completely with the statement.
The researchers also found that people were more likely to admit anti-gay bias if their answers could not be traced back to them.
The researchers do not claim that their sample is a representative sample of the population of the United States, but merely shows that a much larger segment of the population experiences some level of same-sex attraction than they are prepared to admit.
‘The results show non-heterosexuality and anti-gay sentiment are substantially underestimated in existing surveys, and the privacy afforded by current best practices is not always sufficient to eliminate bias,’ the researchers say.
The paper ‘The Size of the LGBT Population and the Magnitude of Anti-Gay Sentiment are Substantially Underestimated’ by Katherine B. Coffman, Lucas C. Coffman, and Keith M. Marzilli Ericson was published in the US National Bureau of Economic Research.