Sexual self-labels and personality differences among Chinese lesbians
Yong Zheng and Lijun Zheng (Southwest University, Chongqing, People’s Republic of China), 2011, 39(7), 955–962

The relationship of masculinity and femininity to the Big Five personality dimensions among a Chinese sample
Lijun Zheng and Yong Zheng (Southwest University, Chongqing, People’s Republic of China), 2011, 39(4), 445–450

The country New Zealand, where this journal is headquartered and published for the world community, will almost certainly legislate soon to allow gay and lesbian people to be able to marry. Although there is a minority of people who are opposing this move, it is now obvious that the significant majority in this country, particularly those younger, are in favor. This legislative change is in process, or has occurred, in many other parts of the world.

Thus it is timely to review the above articles, which contribute further to our understanding of people who are gay or lesbian in their sexual preference.

In the first article, the authors indicate that in China, there are three sexual self-labels which are used among Chinese lesbians: “T” meaning a lesbian who prefers the active role, “P” meaning a lesbian who prefers the receptive role, and “H” meaning a lesbian without a strong preference for either role.

The aim in this first study was to examine personality differences within Chinese lesbian sexual self-labeled groups.  Among the participants – 217 Chinese lesbians – significant differences were found between sexual groups in gender-related and Big Five personality traits. Ts scored higher than Ps in masculinity and self-ascribed masculinity/femininity; Ps scored higher than Ts in femininity; Hs gained intermediate scores in gender-related traits compared to those of Ts and Ps. There were significant differences in the Big Five traits of extraversion, conscientiousness, and emotional stability among the self-labeled groups. Sexual self-labels appear not only to distinguish sexual behavior and patterns but may also suggest personality differences among Chinese lesbians.

Lesbians identifying as T, which is thought of in general culture as being the man’s role in heterosexual sex, scored higher than did Ps or Hs in extraversion, conscientiousness, and emotional stability.

This finding, from the first study, is consistent with the results of the second listed study by the same authors.  In this study, Chinese men scored higher than women in conscientiousness and emotional stability. The finding in the second study, that masculinity is associated with extraversion and femininity with agreeableness, in consistent with work in other cultures.

However, in their second Chinese study, the authors found that masculinity contributed very positively not only to extraversion, conscientiousness and intellect but also contributed slightly to agreeableness. This is a different result from that typically found in Western cultures. The authors suggest that this may be influenced by the Confucian ideal personality which embraces “inner cultivation and exterior action”. Individuals are expected to pursue traits related to masculine qualities, such as self-reliance and independence, but must also pay attention to self-cultivation, which is in line with feminine characteristics.  Thus in China’s collectivist culture, a man who scores high on femininity would be seen as ideally “moral” rather than as “feminine”.

Robert A. C. (Bob) Stewart, PhD | Editor-in-Chief
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal