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.
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?
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.
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.)
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).”
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.