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Gays, Lesbians "Less In Love" than Straight Couples

Update Date: Aug 15, 2014 06:53 PM EDT

Being "in love" is interpreted in different ways depending on your sexual orientation, according to a new study.

Lead researcher Long Doan, a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at Indiana University Bloomington's College of Arts and Sciences, wanted to understand the different attitudes of in terms of sexual orientation.

"If you ask what someone thinks of a same-sex couple or what they think of a straight couple, they usually have different images in mind for the same-sex and straight couples," Doan said in a news release. "By taking away those preconceived differences in relationships, we can pinpoint that the differences in perception are due to sexual orientation alone, instead of other factors that complicate the picture like presumed marital status of same-sex and straight couples."

After asking participants to read the same story about a romantic couple who had their names randomly changed, researchers found that people seem to think of loving relationships in a pecking order: heterosexual couples are perceived to be the most "in love," followed by lesbian couples and then gay couples.  In otherwords, the degree to which couples were perceived to love each other depended on their sexual orientati "There's a lot of focus on portraying gay couples as just as loving as straight couples," Doan said. "This should be an effective approach because it seems that people are swayed by the notion of love. If you can somehow convince people that gay couples are just as loving, then it seems more likely that the movement will gain more support."

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