The Kinsey scale, also called the Heterosexual–Homosexual Rating Scale, is used in research to describe a person's sexual orientation based on their experience or response at a given time. The scale typically ranges from 0, meaning exclusively heterosexual, to 6, meaning exclusively homosexual. In both the Male and Female volumes of the Kinsey Reports, an additional grade, listed as "X", was used to mean "no socio-sexual contacts or reactions". The reports were first published in Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) by Alfred Kinsey, Wardell Pomeroy and others, and were also prominent in the complementary work Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953).
Introducing the scale, Kinsey wrote:
Males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual. The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats. It is a fundamental of taxonomy that nature rarely deals with discrete categories... The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects. While emphasizing the continuity of the gradations between exclusively heterosexual and exclusively homosexual histories, it has seemed desirable to develop some sort of classification which could be based on the relative amounts of heterosexual and homosexual experience or response in each history […] An individual may be assigned a position on this scale, for each period in his life. […] A seven-point scale comes nearer to showing the many gradations that actually exist.— Kinsey, et al. (1948). pp. 639, 656
Table of the scale
The Kinsey scale ranges from 0, for those who would identify themselves as exclusively heterosexual with no experience with or desire for sexual activity with their same sex, to 6, for those who would identify themselves as exclusively homosexual with no experience with or desire for sexual activity with those of the opposite sex, and 1-5 for those who would identify themselves with varying levels of desire for sexual activity with either sex, including "incidental" or "occasional" desire for sexual activity with the same sex.
|1||Predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual|
|2||Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual|
|3||Equally heterosexual and homosexual|
|4||Predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual|
|5||Predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual|
|X||No socio-sexual contacts or reactions|
- Men: 11.6% of white males aged 20–35 were given a rating of 3 for this period of their lives. The study also reported that 10% of American males surveyed were "more or less exclusively homosexual for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55" (in the 5 to 6 range).
- Women: 7% of single females aged 20–35 and 4% of previously married females aged 20–35 were given a rating of 3 for this period of their lives. 2% to 6% of females, aged 20–35, were given a rating of 5 and 1% to 3% of unmarried females aged 20–35 were rated as 6.
There have been similar studies where the scale is from 0 to 10. In such studies, the person would be asked a question such as "If 0 is completely gay and 10 is completely hetero, what is your orientation number?". Furthermore, although the additional X grade used to mean "no socio-sexual contacts or reactions" is today described as asexuality, scholar Justin J. Lehmiller stated, "the Kinsey X classification emphasized a lack of sexual behavior, whereas the modern definition of asexuality emphasizes a lack of sexual attraction. As such, the Kinsey Scale may not be sufficient for accurate classification of asexuality."
The Kinsey scale does not address all possible sexual expressions. Others have stepped forward to define it further. In 1980, Michael Storms proposed a two dimensional chart with an X and Y axis. This scale explicitly takes into account the case of asexuality and the simultaneous expression of hetero-eroticism and homo-eroticism. Fritz Klein, in his Klein Sexual Orientation Grid, included factors such as how orientation can change throughout a person's lifetime, as well as emotional and social orientation.
Kinsey, Storm, and Klein are only three of more than 200 scales to measure and describe sexual orientation. For example, there are scales that rate homosexual behaviors from 1 to 14, and measures for gender, masculinity, femininity, and transsexualism.
Today, many sexologists see the Kinsey scale as relevant to sexual orientation but not comprehensive enough to cover all sexual identity issues. They suggest that sexual identity involves at least three different spectra, sexual orientation being only one of them (two others being biological sex and gender identity).
When asked to place themselves on the Kinsey scale, 72% of all adults, and 46% of adults aged 18–24 years, picked a score of zero, totally heterosexual. On the other side, 4% of the total sample, and 6% of young adults, picked a score of six, meaning a totally homosexual identity. Overall, 89% of the population described themselves as heterosexual.
- Bisexual erasure
- Gay sexual practices
- Gender binary
- Heterosexual–homosexual continuum
- Lesbian sexual practices
- Taxonomy of Uranismus
- "Kinsey's Heterosexual–Homosexual Rating Scale". The Kinsey Institute. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
- "Kinsey Sexuality Rating Scale". The Kinsey Institute. Retrieved 2013-12-02.
- Kinsey, et al. 1948. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, Table 147, p. 651
- Kinsey, et al. 1953. Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, Table 142, p. 499
- Kinsey, et al. 1953. Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, p. 488
- Kinsey, et al. 1953. Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, Table 142, p. 499, and p. 474
- Sexuality Now: Embracing Diversity (2006) – Janbell L Caroll
- Mary Zeiss Stange, Carol K. Oyster, Jane E. Sloan (2011). Encyclopedia of Women in Today's World. Sage Pubns. p. 158. ISBN 978-1-4129-7685-5. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- Justin J. Lehmiller (2017). The Psychology of Human Sexuality. John Wiley & Sons. p. 250. ISBN 1119164702. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
- "Evaluation of Models of Sexual Orientation" (PDF). University of Wisconsin–La Crosse. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 15, 2012. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
- "Graph of Michael Storm Scale versus Kinsey Scale". Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2012-09-06.
- Clive M. Davis; William L. Yarber; Robert Bauserman; George Schreer; Sandra L. Davis (2000). Handbook of Sexuality-Related Measures. Sage. ISBN 978-1-4129-1336-2.
- "Kinsey's Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale". The Kinsey Institute. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
- Clive M. Davis; William L. Yarber; Robert Bauserman; George Schreer; Sandra L. Davis (2000). Handbook of Sexuality-Related Measures. Sage. p. 137. ISBN 978-1-4129-1336-2.
- "Sexual Orientation & Gender". Planned Parenthood. Retrieved 2012-09-06.
- Will Dahlgreen. YouGov UK 2015 1 in 2 young people say they are not 100% heterosexual