Gerulf Rieger is psychologist known for claiming bisexual men don’t exist, and that trans women exhibit “male arousal patterns.” After receiving money from a bisexual group, he somehow discovered male bisexuality.
Reiger earned his bachelor’s degree in biology at University of Vienna, Austria in 1995. He then received a master’s degree in Evolutionary Anthropology at University of Zurich in 1999. He then came to Northwestern University, where he studied Personality Psychology, earning a masters degree in 2004 and a doctorate in in 2006.
He was being groomed by his mentor J. Michael Bailey to engage in “science by press conference,” a way of getting publicity and attention for questionable research through carefully timed media manipulation.
To date, Rieger’s greatest media triumph has been a 5 July 2005 article by Benedict Carey in the New York Times. Titled “Straight, Gay, or Lying? Bisexuality Revisited,” it was one of the most widely emailed stories on the Times website in the week following publication.
Bailey is well known for his work in the field of homosexual eugenics. Bailey has made a career of splashy “findings” which are heralded uncritically by sloppy reporters and then later called into question and/or discredited after the damage is done. By then Bailey is on to some new “finding,” and the pattern of using journalists begins again.
Rieger on bisexuality
Rieger has been involved in claiming that “true bisexuality” does not exist in males through use of plethysmograph quackery.
Recently, we finished our study on male sexual arousal and sexual orientation. We were most interested in figuring out whether putative bisexual men do really get aroused to both men and women. There has been a long-lasting skepticism as to whether bisexual men are really what they say they are. Some people suggested that they are closet gay men. Others said that they are confused heterosexual men. So what are they? We invited all heterosexual, gay, and bisexual men into our lab, and measured their sexual arousal with help of a penile strain gauge while showing them movies of naked men or of naked women. We found no obvious bisexual arousal trends for the bisexual men. Most of them showed arousal like gay men, and a few got aroused like heterosexual men. Here you will find a link to the poster, which was presented at the IASR conference in Hamburg in the Summer of 2002. (Rieger 2004)http://www.morov.com/cgi-bin/sm?pg=blab:posham1;lang=en
Three years later, Benedict Carey of the New York Times was still calling Rieger’s work “a new study” in an article timed to coincide with the opening of the International Academy of Sex Research conference, where the study had been presented three years earlier. The only apparent difference is the sample size.
Straight, Gay, or Lying? Bisexuality Revisited
Clearinghouse by Lynn Conway
2002 bisexuality study by Gerulf Rieger
Carey’s report drew widespread criticism from media watchdog groups and civil rights groups.
Rieger on gender variance
In 2003, Rieger graciously provided this telling email from his advisor J. Michael Bailey in which Bailey dismissed “irate transsexuals” for criticizing his defamatory book The Man Who Would Be Queen.
After several people expressed concerns about Bailey’s unscientific and exploitative lectures (/info/bailey-lectures.html) in support of his book at Emory on 8 April 2003 (reported by Dr. Saralyn Chesnut) and at Stanford on 23 April 2003 (reported by Dr. Joan Roughgarden), Bailey wrote a terse response to Gerulf:
From: Gerulf Rieger <email@example.com>
Date: Mon Apr 28, 2003 10:36:08 AM US/Central
Subject: Dr. Bailey’s reply: Prof. Michael Bailey’s lecture lacks sensitivity…
Here is a message from Professor Bailey, my advisor.
Background: Roughgarden is a transsexual woman (who used to be a man), who is part of a group (I think a small one) who is extremely angry with me about my recent book, The Man Who Would Be Queen. For examples of vitriol (to the extent that one put dirty captions under pictures of my children) see:
The main complaint is that I do not believe that all transsexuals are “women trapped in men’s bodies” but instead, believe the scientific evidence that one type of male-to-female transsexual is, prior to transition, a man with a sexual obsession for being a woman. The other type can be conceived of as an extremely feminine type of gay man. I explain in the book why the first type of transsexual tends to be very threatened by this explanation of their behavior. I posted on this before here, so instead of doing so again, I refer interested people to a website where they can read the book: (available to read for free at)
The second section, on homosexuality, is what I lectured about at Stanford. The third section is the one that has Roughgarden mad. The transsexuals have been writing everyone possibly affiliated with the book, from the publisher (and someone in the upper echelon has a wife who is good friends with one Lynn Conway–see negative review #1 above–and this resulted in the book being taken off the publisher’s website for nearly 24 hours) to people who wrote positive blurbs on the cover (Steven Pinker and David Buss, for example) to my colleagues. I don’t have time for individual responses to irate transsexuals, so I’m writing something for my webpage.
Photo by Theresa Kwok via Drier 2003: J. Michael Bailey, left, and graduate students Gerulf Rieger and Elizabeth Latty admiring Bailey and his book The Man Who Would Be Queen.
Below: Bailey and Rieger in a CNN report on how gay people walk. Never have two men been filmed walking more self-consciously.
I am interested in human behavior, especially non-verbal behavior that does not depend on self-reports. Right now I am of course interested in human sexuality. What are the causes and the effects of a person’s sexual orientation? Could there be any adaptive qualities to being gay? Is sexual orientation correlated with any other personality traits, and if so, what can they tell us about the development of sexual orientation?
Right now, we are working on a study on the butch and femme behavior of gay people and at its effects on the mate value of the individual. We do know that gay men tend to prefer masculine men as partners and claim that they want “no femmes”. Lesbians on the other hand seek feminine partners and want “no butches” (link to Mike’s butch, femme study). Despite this tendency towards attraction for gender conforming traits, we also know that gay men are on average more feminine than heterosexual men and that lesbians are, on average, more masculine than heterosexual women (link to Mike’s unpublished study). However, we do not yet know what specific characteristics gay men mean when they say “no femmes” and what do lesbians mean when they want “no butches.
Recently, we finished our study on male sexual arousal and sexual orientation. We were most interested in figuring out whether putative bisexual men do really get aroused to both men and women. There has been a long-lasting skepticism as to whether bisexual men are really what they say they are. Some people suggested that they are closet gay men. Others said that they are confused heterosexual men. So what are they? We invited all heterosexual, gay, and bisexual men into our lab, and measured their sexual arousal with help of a penile strain gauge while showing them movies of naked men or of naked women. We found no obvious bisexual arousal trends for the bisexual men. Most of them showed arousal like gay men, and a few got aroused like heterosexual men. Here you will find a link to the poster, which was presented at the IASR conference in Hamburg in the Summer of 2002.
My next project will have a closer look at the possible genetic contribution to sexual orientation. We plan to work with discordant twins. These are identical twins, who differ on a specific trait. In our case, this will be their sexual orientation. For example, one twin is a gay man, but his brother is heterosexual. This could support the idea that sexual orientation is not solely genetically determined. However, no one has to our knowledge ever systematically tried to explore the twins’ sexual orientation by other means than pure self-report. There are several traits that we know gay and heterosexual people differ. We can use these traits to study our twins. How different or similar are these discordant twins in their psychology, their voices, their movements, or less subtle, their sexual arousal, and their brain activity while sexual aroused?
On a personal note, I seem to be a person who likes to move. I started in Biology in Vienna then moved to Biological Anthropology in Zurich and now I am here at Northwestern in the Psychology Department.
Here’s a picture of me & Marcel, http://web.archive.org/web/20050913041212/http://www.psych.northwestern.edu/psych/people/faculty/bailey/pictures/gerulf&marcel.jpg and one of me and some people from the lab http://www.psych.northwestern.edu/psych/people/faculty/bailey/pictures/gerulfparty.jpg at a party.
Other papers and reports involving Rieger
Chivers ML, Rieger G, Latty EM, Bailey JM. A Sex Difference in the Specificity of Sexual Arousal. Psychological Science 2003.
Sexual arousal is category-specific in men; heterosexual men are more aroused by female than by male sexual stimuli, while homosexual men show the opposite pattern. There is reason to believe that female sexual arousal is altogether differently organized. We assessed genital and subjective sexual arousal to male and female sexual stimuli in women, men, and postoperative male-to-female transsexuals. In contrast to men, women showed little category-specificity on either genital or subjective measures. Both heterosexual and homosexual women experienced strong genital arousal to both male and female sexual stimuli. Transsexuals showed a category-specific pattern, demonstrating that category specificity can be detected in the neovagina using a photoplethysmographic measure of female genital sexual arousal. In a second study, we showed that our female results are unlikely to be explained by ascertainment biases. These findings suggest that sexual arousal patterns play a fundamentally different role in male and female sexuality.
Siler-Knogl AK, Rieger G, Bailey JM. Sex Atypicality and Attractiveness in Gay and Heterosexual People. Psychological Science 2004.
Gay people are more sex-atypical (e.g. feminine men, masculine women), yet they don’t seem to seek sex-atypical partners. However, this study suggests that while sex atypicality enhances attractiveness, independently, homosexuality has a negative effect, especially for men. Thus, a yet undefined factor seems to detriment the attractiveness of gay people.
Rieger also published three papers on cats:
1. Spouses and cats and their effects on human mood. Turner, Dennis C; Rieger, Gerulf; Gygax, Lorenz, Anthrozoos. Vol 16(3), 2003, pp. 213-228.
2. Singly living people and their cats: A study of human mood and subsequent behavior. Turner, Dennis C; Rieger, Gerulf, Anthrozoos. Vol 14(1), 2001, pp. 38-46.
3. How depressive moods affect the behavior of singly living persons toward their cats. Rieger, Gerulf; Turner, Dennis C, Anthrozoos. Vol 12(4), 1999, pp. 224-233.
Science imitates art: Rieger on LGBT stereotypes
In 2003, Rieger appeared in a short film by fellow Northwestern grad Jason Bolicki, called Twenty Gay Stereotypes Confirmed.” http://www.outflixfestival.org/Film-20GSC.htm It’s described as “a tongue-in-cheek look at gay stereotypes using the director’s childhood home movies.” Sounds like Rieger is now gearing up for the non tongue-in-cheek version in 2005:
Men and Women Wanted in Paid Northwestern Study
Reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 2005-05-21, 5:55PM CDT
Men and Women wanted who have home movies from their childhood and are willing to be interviewed for a study on child development. Participation takes about two hours. Participants will be paid $50. Please call Gerulf Rieger at Northwestern University, The Human Sexuality Lab at 847/491-3820. You may also email email@example.com . IRB#: 0108-016
Please note: in order to be eligible for this study, you must have a childhood home movie of yourself (approximately ages 0-10), and bring it with you during your interview.
* Job location is Evanston
* Compensation: $50
Bailey has done this in the past as well, showing clips of gender-variant children for the amusement of his audiences. /info/bailey-lectures.html
The misfit of sex atypicality (continued)
Rieger, G., and Bailey, J.M., Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, 2029 Sheridan Road, Swift Hall 102, Evanston, IL 60208 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Homosexual people tend to reject sex-atypical partners: Homosexual men tend to find feminine men less attractive, and conversely, lesbians tend to find masculine women less attractive. We investigated what traits could trigger this disadvantage. Ten-second video clips of 95 targets, ages 18 to 30, were judged on sex atypicality of their movements, voice patters and appearances by 58 raters of both sexes and sexual orientations without explicit information on the targets’ sexual orientation. Another sex of 121 raters of both sexes/sexual orientations would rate targets on attractiveness, rating their preferred sex, again without explicit information on the targets’ sexual orientation. Homosexual targets of both sexes were, on average, rated as having more sex-atypical movements, voices, and appearance (ds = .6 to 1.5, ps < .01). The expressions of these traits were significantly related to each other (rs = .4 to .7, ps < .05) and we thus computed one factor of sex atypicality. Using a multi-factorial design, including raters as random factor, we would then assess the relation between sex atypicality and attractiveness. In men, only the most sex-atypical targets were judged to be less attractive (b = -.11, p < .0001). In women, however, both moderate and strong expressions of sex atypicality seemed to affect attractiveness negatively (b = -.12, p < .0001). Independent of their sex atypicality, homosexual men were less attractive than same sex heterosexuals (b = -.12, p < .0001), and lesbians were rated to be less attractive than heterosexual women (b = -.09, p < .0001). Thus a yet unknown parameter related to homosexuality seemed relevant to raters. Attraction patterns were mostly unaffected by the raters’ sex or sexual orientation, and self reported gender identity and homophobia.
Chivers ML, Rieger G, Latty EM, Bailey JM. A Sex Difference in the Specificity of Sexual Arousal. Psychological Science conference 2003.
Rieger G, Chivers ML, Bailey JM. Who are bisexual men? Sexual orientation and sexual arousal in men. International Academy of Sex Research conference 2002.
Rieger G. Research interests. J. Michael Bailey faculty website. retrieved 17 May 2004. http://www.psych.nwu.edu/psych/people/faculty/bailey/rieger.html
Siler-Knogl AK, Rieger G, Bailey JM. Sex Atypicality and Attractiveness in Gay and Heterosexual People. Psychological Science 2004.