I'm a heterosexual male. Male bodies do not appeal to me much. I find my own (average) body mediocre. At the same time I find average female bodies rather interesting and attractive. The same goes for faces and "male" and "female" character traits. So I wonder how homosexuals judge themselves.

Since gay men and lesbian women are attracted to bodies, faces and possibly personalities of the same sex, maybe they find their own bodies, faces and personality more aggreeable on average than the heterosexual, for whom persons of their own kind must by definition lack at least some aspects of attractiveness (i.e. the sexual and erotic appeal).

If this is so, then maybe traits like narcissism are more frequent and disorders like body dysmophic disorder are less frequent among homosexuals. In general terms:

Do homosexuals like themselves more than heterosexuals?

where "liking" includes anything from feeling attractive to disorders such as narcissism.

Or doesn't sexual orientation moderate "self-love" at all?

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    $\begingroup$ Before I read the question I thought this would be the most offensive post in times haha, but you phrased it rather nicely and have a hypothesis that makes sense. However, the opposite may also be possible of course. What if they compare themselves to what they like, and may therefore feel less confident about their bodies? Maybe the answer on this question may help you out: cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions/465/… $\endgroup$ May 30 '16 at 14:33
  • $\begingroup$ @RobinKramer Actually studies have found that the prevalence of eating disorders is higher in homosexual than in heterosexual men. The theory is that media targeted at homosexual men propagates a certain body ideal much stronger than media targeted at heterosexual men, or rather, that media targeted at heterosexual men propagates a body ideal for women, not men. This would appear to contradict my hypothesis, but you might say that there are several factors at work which confound each other, and that the one I'm asking about might still be there. Studies would have to consider this, though. $\endgroup$
    – user3116
    May 31 '16 at 6:21
  • $\begingroup$ Another possible confounding factor is the Westermarck Effect (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westermarck_effect) - that may reduce sexual attraction to self on account of the close proximity in early life. $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Nov 7 '16 at 17:20

What you have here is a hypothesis and it's almost impossible to answer this conclusively because you can't design a randomized study but only look at correlations. In addition, "narcissism" itself is far from a simple concept and used differently by different researchers. For instance some see is as synonymous with self-esteem and self-confidence, some don't.

In fact, your view is closer to some of the psychoanalytical views of homosexuality. For instance, a hundred years ago, in talking about narcissism and abnormal development, Freud suggested that people who had experienced problems during libidnal development (libido is a kind of instinctual sexual energy behind our psychological development), including gays and "perverts", instead of choosing their mother as their "love-object", they'd use themselves as the love object. He labeled this abnormal sexual development a kind of narcissism. The theory is more complex than that but I just wanted to give you an idea of the kind of views I was referring to.

Contemporary research does not follow this line of thinking nor talks about development, gays or not, in those terms. In fact many (not all) psychoanalytical concepts are no longer seen as scientific (=falsifiable) so they're not seriously studied these days in universities. You would instead find researchers look, for instance, at homosexuality and mental health (with a lot of attention paid to social factors; see Herek & Garnets, 2007), but not studies of narcissistic development in homosexuals, except a couple here and there in psychoanalytical journals.

I took a look and most recent study I found in a non-psychoanalytical journal was by an Israeli researcher, Rubinstein, published in 2010. In her study she found exactly what she believed based on Freudian conception, that gays were more narcissistic but had less self confidence than heterosexuals.

As the invited commentary on that study (Hartmann, same issue, can't find citing info) mentions, given that there is still stigma against homosexuals, one need a higher standard for offering the conclusion that she had (the study used only 200 Jewish students in their 20s living in Israel and within what Hartmann calls "forceful social and religious traditions", and had relied on self-report, which is far from objective). In her defense, Rubinstein did talk about three potential interpretations and also the limitations of her study.


Some psychoanalysts believe that homosexuals are more narcissistic than heterosexuals but no good data is available to confirm that, partly because researchers try to be careful when they study sexual orientation because of potential misuse of findings, but more importantly because those conceptions of homosexuality are no longer seen as scientific or more useful/productive than current biological or psychological theories of homosexual development.

I hope you found this answer helpful.

Works Cited

Freud, S. (1957). On narcissism: An introduction. In J. Strachey (Ed. and Trans.),The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 14, pp. 67–104). London: Hogarth Press (Original work published 1914).

Herek, G. M., & Garnets, L. D. (2007). Sexual orientation and mental health. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 3, 353–375.

Rubinstein, G. (2010). Narcissism and Self-Esteem Among Homosexual and Heterosexual Male Students. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 36:24–34.

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    $\begingroup$ Great stuff Jlente! $\endgroup$ Nov 25 '16 at 10:29

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