Academic Staff

Dr Gerulf Rieger

Position in departmentLibrary Officer
Staff positionLecturer
Telephone01206 873712

Gerulf Rieger obtained a MSc in Biological Anthropology from the University of Zurich in Switzerland and a PhD in Personality Psychology from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. Gerulf had a teaching position at Northwestern University and was a research fellow in the Department of Human Development at Cornell University before joining the Social and Health Psychology Group at the University of Essex.

Current research

We are preparing an exciting new study that will compare sexual reponses based on pupil dilation with those based on genital arousal. This research will help determining whether pupil dilation is, in fact, a precise indiactor of sexual attraction and arousal.

We are planning new research on the development of sexual orientation. We will recruit identical twins with discordant sexual orientations ( a heterosexual twin with a homosexual co-twin). Since these twin pairs are virtually genetically identical, any differences must be due to the environment, and we will investigate the exact environmental influences. 

Much of our reserach has focused on gender behaviour. Both heterosexual and homosexual people who are more gender nonconforming are more distressed -- we are currently investigating whether this is due to experienced stigmatization because of their gender behaviours. 

Research interests

My recent work has focused on sexual orientation: how it is organized, how it develops, and how it affects a person’s life. I use a wide diversity of methodologies, ranging from self-report to assessing physiological activity and neurological correlates, and employ an array of quantitative skills in order to pursue my research. I use home videos to examine behavioural signals of childhood masculinity-femininity and how they predict adult sexual orientation. I also investigate the social impact of these signals. I have used large data sets of family members to investigate potential evolutionary mechanisms of sexual orientation. In another line of research, I study the association of sexual orientation with physiological sexual arousal in order to illuminate sex differences in sexual attraction. With a different methodology, pupil dilation, I am currently conducting research that will aid in explaining how early sex and sexual orientation differences in sexual attraction patterns emerge. These studies have broad relevance for understanding how people perceive themselves and others, as well as consequences of these perceptions, and for the development of differences between and within the sexes.

My previous research interests focused on interactions between humans and their companion animals, and how these interactions compare to communications between humans. We investigated to what degree companion animals affected the temporary moods of their owners, and whether these interactions included mechanisms that are not found in the communication styles between humans.

Teaching responsibilities

Gerulf Rieger's current teaching responsibilities include Social Psychology (PS407 & PS923), Special Topics in Social Psychology (PS 933), Methods in Cognitive Neuroscience (PS929), and the supervision of Third Year Projects (PS300). 


Below is a list of selected puplications. For a complete list, pelase contact Gerulf Rieger at:

Rieger, G., Rosenthal, A. M., Cash, B. M., Linsenmeier, J. A., Bailey, J. M., & Savin-Williams, R. C. (2013). Male Bisexual Arousal: A Matter of Curiosity? Biological Psychology, 94(3), 479-89. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2013.09.007

Vrangalova, Z., Bukberg, R. E., & Rieger, G. (2013). Birds of a feather? Not when it comes to sexual permissiveness. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. doi: 10.1177/0265407513487638

Savin-Williams, R., Rieger, G., & Rosenthal, A. M. (2013). Physiological Evidence for a Mostly Heterosexual Orientation Among Men. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 1-3. doi: 10.1007/s10508-013-0093-1

Rieger, G., & Savin-Williams, R. C. (2012). The eyes have it: Sex and sexual orientation differences in pupil dilation patterns. PloS One, 7(8): e40256. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040256.

Rieger, G., & Savin-Williams, R. C. (2012). Gender nonconformity, sexual orientation, and psychological well-being. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41(3), 611-621.

Moskowitz, D. A., Seal, D. W., Rintamaki, L., & Rieger, G. (2011). HIV in the leather community: HIV rates and risk-related behaviors. AIDS and Behavior, 15(3), 557-564.

Rieger, G., Linsenmeier, J. A. W., Gygax, L., Garcia, S. C., & Bailey, J. M. (2010). Dissecting ‘Gaydar’: Accuracy and the role of masculinity-femininity. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39(1), 124-140.

Rieger, G., Linsenmeier, J. A. W., Gygax, L., & Bailey, J. M. (2008). Sexual orientation and childhood gender nonconformity: Evidence from home videos. Developmental Psychology, 44(1), 46-58.

Rieger, G., Chivers, M. L., & Bailey, J. M. (2005). Sexual arousal patterns of bisexual men. Psychological Science, 16(8), 579-584.

Chivers, M. L., Rieger, G., Latty, E. M., & Bailey, J. M. (2004). A sex difference in the specificity of sexual arousal. Psychological Science, 15(11), 736-744.

Rieger, G., & Turner, D. C. (1999). How depressive moods affect the behavior of singly living persons toward their cats. Anthrozoos, 12(4), 224-233.

<< Back