Reconsidering male bisexuality: Sexual activity role and sexual attraction in Samoan men who engage in sexual interactions with Fa'afafine

Lanna J. Petterson, Anthony C. Little, Barnaby J. Dixson, Paul L. Vasey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (SciVal)


In many non Western cultures, same-sex attracted males are markedly feminine in terms of their gender role presentation and are recognized as members of a "third" gender. These third gender males engage in sexual activity with masculine males who are recognized as men. The sexual orientation of these masculine men remains an open question. Using a Samoan sample (N = 100), the current study employed measures of self-report and viewing time (a measure that assesses sexual interest based on the length of time individuals attend to stimuli images presented on a computer screen) to examine differences in patterns of sexual attraction among: (a) men who only engage in sexual interactions with women, (b) men who engage in sexual activity with third gender males (known locally as fa'afafine) but only receive fellatio, (c) men who both perform and receive fellatio with their fa'afafine sexual partner(s), and (d) fa'afafine, themselves. Inferential statistical analyses were used to compare groups. Our results indicate that these groups are distributed on a scale of sexual attraction ranging from primarily attracted to women to primarily attracted to men, respectively. These results suggest that male sexual orientation is a continuous trait, is tied to sexual activity role, and its expression is influenced by culture. Moreover, the present study highlights the importance of conducting quantitative, experimental research in non-Western cultures so as to garner a more comprehensive understanding of those aspects of sexuality that are universal and those that are cross-culturally variable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-26
Number of pages16
JournalPsychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Psychological Association.

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Bisexuality
  • Male sexual orientation
  • Response latency
  • Samoa
  • Viewing time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Psychology(all)


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