Researchers Identify Psychological Traits Among Gay Tops and Bottoms

gay tops bottoms

Gay Tops and Bottoms and the role of self-perception

Are you a top, bottom or versatile? For better or worse, it’s often one of the first questions gay men will ask one another upon meeting.

According to a scientific study, the answer may be (in part) to due to how you perceive the size of your penis and associated anxiety.

In a paper appearing in the Achieves of Sexual Behavior, Researchers from the University of Toronto Mississauga have conducted a study to assess a biological link to sexual roles within gay men.

Categories included bottom, or receptive, top, or penetrative, and versatile, or both receptive and penetrative depending on circumstance.

More: Does your nose give you away as gay?

Simply put, the findings suggest family background, combined with self-perceptions of penis size, which factor into sexual behavior, may impact how a gay man sexually identifies.

In plain speak – if you perceive having a small penis and carry anxiety about this, you are more likely to identify as bottom than top.

Additionally, perceptions of self-masculinity also may play a role in top, bottom or versatile identification.

Per the study:

“Specifically, gay men with an insertive anal sex role (i.e., tops) scored higher on masculine personality traits compared to males with a receptive (i.e., bottom) anal sex role preference.”

How was the research conducted?

Part 1

During the summer of 2015, the research group surveyed 282 gay and bisexual men and measured demographics (including height and penis size), age of sexual recognitions, sexual position self-label, and attitudinal constructs as identified by participants.

Part 2

They also used a psychometric tool (a 25-cent word for a psychological test) containing 23-item questions designed to measure recalled gender-typed behavior and relative closeness to mother and father during childhood.

They group combined then combined the results to create a multivariate path model (a path analysis is used to describe the directed dependencies among a set of variables.)

Penis anxiety

Per the study:

“The model did not support the direct importance of penis size, but identified indirect paths that linked penis size to top/bottom identification (e.g., smaller penis sizes leading to topping-anxieties and thus, a bottom label).”

More: Does your face scream your a huge bottom?

Self-identified tops rated themselves as more masculine compared to bottoms… and tops were more likely to score higher on male-typical cognitive styles while bottoms were higher on female-typical cognitive styles” per the research report.


While there are some claims on the Internet right now about people being wired to bottom based on this research, the real take-aways are:

  • Sexual roles are a learned behavior that happen through perceived experiences, over the course of time.
  • Self-perceptions of personal penis size play a role in those experiences, which ultimately can lead to a role preference.
  • Anxiety about performance as a top may be a determinant the role a person chooses. 

h/t: Jezebel