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How Well, And How Quick, Do They Click? Initial Dyadic Interactions Between Straight Women And Gay (vs. Straight) Men
Russell, Eric M.
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Past literature and popular culture have suggested that a strong, interpersonal connection quickly develops between straight women and gay men; however, research has not yet explored whether this phenomenon can be observed in their initial interactions. I tested three hypotheses that were derived from the general prediction that straight women-gay men (SW-GM) dyads would exhibit a distinctive pattern of interaction that contrasts with that observed in opposite-sex dyads composed of straight women and straight men (SW-SM). Sixty-five heterosexual women and 65 men (33 heterosexual, 32 homosexual) were recruited to create 32 SW-GM dyads and 33 SW-SM dyads. Each dyad engaged in two five-minute-long interactions while being covertly audio- and video-recorded. The sexual orientation of the male participants was ambiguous to their female partners in the first interaction, but was made salient to them immediately before the second interaction period. Each dyad member then completed measures assessing their overall level of rapport and comfort with their interaction partner. The results revealed that, in the period after the male partner’s sexual orientation was known, the SW-GM dyads—but not the SW-SM dyads—exhibited more intimate behaviors such as orienting their bodies more towards one another, maintaining longer eye contact, displaying more positive affect, and spending more time discussing more intimate conversation topics. Moreover, the straight women in the SW-GM dyads reported feeling more comfortable and more inclined to discuss mating-related topics with their partner than the women who were in the SW-SM dyads. These converging findings capture the special connection between straight women and gay men in its earliest formative moments.