Kinsey Reports

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The 1948 first edition of Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, the first of the two Kinsey Reports Kinsey-Male.jpg
The 1948 first edition of Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, the first of the two Kinsey Reports

The Kinsey Reports are two books on human sexual behavior, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male [1] (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female [2] (1953), written by Alfred Kinsey, Paul Gebhard, Wardell Pomeroy, Clyde Martin and others and published by Saunders. Kinsey was a zoologist at Indiana University and the founder of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction (more widely known as the Kinsey Institute).

Alfred Kinsey American scientist (1894–1956)

Alfred Charles Kinsey was an American biologist, professor of entomology and zoology, and sexologist who in 1947 founded the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University, previously known as the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. He is best known for writing Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953), also known as the Kinsey Reports, as well as the Kinsey scale. Kinsey's research on human sexuality, foundational to the field of sexology, provoked controversy in the 1940s and 1950s. His work has influenced social and cultural values in the United States, as well as internationally.

Paul Henry Gebhard was an American anthropologist and sexologist. Born in Rocky Ford, Colorado, he earned a B.S. and a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1940 and 1947, respectively. Between the years 1946 and 1956, Gebhard was a close colleague to sex researcher Alfred Kinsey. It was acknowledged in Gebhard's New York Times obituary that Kinsey was in fact his mentor and that Gebhard was fascinated when Kinsey first met him and revealed to him that the men's room at Grand Central Terminal in New York City was a frequent site for gay cruising.

Wardell Baxter Pomeroy was an American sexologist and co-author with Alfred C. Kinsey.


Sexual Behavior in the Human Female was based on personal interviews with approximately 6,000 women. Kinsey analyzed data for the frequency with which women participate in various types of sexual activity and looked at how factors such as age, social-economic status and religious adherence influence sexual behavior. Comparisons are made of female and male sexual activities. Kinsey's evidence suggested that women were less sexually active than men. [3]

The publications were immediately controversial among the general public. The findings caused shock and outrage, both because they challenged conventional beliefs about sexuality and because they discussed subjects that had previously been taboo. [4]

Human sexuality is the way people experience and express themselves sexually. This involves biological, erotic, physical, emotional, social, or spiritual feelings and behaviors. Because it is a broad term, which has varied over time, it lacks a precise definition. The biological and physical aspects of sexuality largely concern the human reproductive functions, including the human sexual response cycle. Someone's sexual orientation can influence that person's sexual interest and attraction for another person. Physical and emotional aspects of sexuality include bonds between individuals that are expressed through profound feelings or physical manifestations of love, trust, and care. Social aspects deal with the effects of human society on one's sexuality, while spirituality concerns an individual's spiritual connection with others. Sexuality also affects and is affected by cultural, political, legal, philosophical, moral, ethical, and religious aspects of life.

Taboo Implicit prohibition based on cultural values, often without rational basis

In any given society, a taboo is an implicit prohibition on something based on a cultural sense that it is excessively repulsive or, perhaps, too sacred for ordinary people. Such prohibitions are present in virtually all societies. On a comparative basis taboos, for example related to food items, seem to make no sense at all as what may be declared unfit for one group by custom or religion may be perfectly acceptable to another.

Kinsey's methodology used to collect data has received criticism. It has been suggested that some data in the reports could not have been obtained without collaborations with child molesters. [5] The Kinsey Institute denies this charge, though it acknowledges that men who have had sexual experiences with children were interviewed, with Kinsey balancing what he saw as the need for their anonymity to solicit "honest answers on such taboo subjects" against the likelihood that their crimes would continue. [6] [7] Additionally, concerns over the sample populations used were later addressed by the Kinsey Institute. The conclusion of the Kinsey Institute was that none of Kinsey's original estimates were significantly affected by these data sources. [8]


Sexual orientation

Parts of the Kinsey Reports regarding diversity in sexual orientations are frequently used to support the common estimate of 10% for homosexuality in the general population. However, the findings are not as absolute, and Kinsey himself avoided and disapproved of using terms like homosexual or heterosexual to describe individuals, asserting that sexuality is prone to change over time, and that sexual behavior can be understood both as physical contact as well as purely psychological phenomena (desire, sexual attraction, fantasy).[ citation needed ] [9] Instead of three categories (heterosexual, bisexual and homosexual), a seven-point Kinsey scale system was used.

Sexual orientation is an enduring pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to persons of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or to both sexes or more than one gender. These attractions are generally subsumed under heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality, while asexuality is sometimes identified as the fourth category.

Homosexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction or sexual behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality is "an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions" to people of the same sex. It "also refers to a person's sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions."

The reports also state that nearly 46% of the male subjects had "reacted" sexually to persons of both sexes in the course of their adult lives, and 37% had at least one homosexual experience. [10] 11.6% of white males (ages 20–35) were given a rating of 3 (about equal heterosexual and homosexual experience/response) throughout their adult lives. [11] 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). [12]

7% of single females (ages 20–35) and 4% of previously married females (ages 20–35) were given a rating of 3 (about equal heterosexual and homosexual experience/response) on Kinsey Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale for this period of their lives. [13] 2 to 6% of females, aged 20–35, were more or less exclusively homosexual in experience/response, [14] and 1 to 3% of unmarried females aged 20–35 were exclusively homosexual in experience/response. [15]


Academic criticisms were made pertaining to sample selection and sample bias in the reports' methodology. This was despite the fact that Kinsey sought to work on a more 'complete' report that would have involved 100,000 interviews and that the initial 1948 publication was merely considered by him to be a sample progress report. [16] Two main problems cited were that significant portions of the samples come from prison populations and male prostitutes, and that people who volunteer to be interviewed about taboo subject are likely to create a self-selection bias. Both undermine the usefulness of the sample in terms of determining the tendencies of the overall population. In 1948, the same year as the original publication, a committee of the American Statistical Association, including notable statisticians such as John Tukey, condemned the sampling procedure. Tukey was perhaps the most vocal critic, saying, "A random selection of three people would have been better than a group of 300 chosen by Mr. Kinsey." [17] [18] Psychologist Abraham Maslow asserted that Kinsey did not consider "volunteer bias". The data represented only those volunteering to participate in discussion of taboo topics. Most Americans were reluctant to discuss the intimate details of their sex lives even with their spouses and close friends. Before the publication of Kinsey's reports, Maslow tested Kinsey's volunteers for bias. He concluded that Kinsey's sample was unrepresentative of the general population. [19] In 1954, leading statisticians, including William Gemmell Cochran, Frederick Mosteller, John Tukey, and W. O. Jenkins issued for the American Statistical Association a critique of Kinsey's 1948 report on the human male, stating:

“Critics are justified in their objections that many of the most interesting and provocative statements in the [Kinsey 1948] book are not based on the data presented therein, and it is not made clear to the reader on what evidence the statements are based. Further, the conclusions drawn from data presented in the book are often stated by KPM [Kinsey, Pomeroy, and Martin] in much too bold and confident a manner. Taken cumulatively, these objections amount to saying that much of the writing in the book falls below the level of good scientific writing.” [20]

In response, Paul Gebhard, Kinsey's close colleague, [21] “Sexual Behavior in the Human Female" co-author, [21] and successor as director of the Kinsey Institute for Sex Research, [21] cleaned the Kinsey data of purported contaminants, [22] removing, for example, all material derived from prison populations in the basic sample. In 1979, Gebhard (with Alan B. Johnson) published The Kinsey Data: Marginal Tabulations of the 1938–1963 Interviews Conducted by the Institute for Sex Research. Their conclusion, to Gebhard's surprise he claimed, was that none of Kinsey's original estimates were significantly affected by this bias: that is, the prison population and male prostitutes had the same statistical tendency as those who willingly participated in discussion of previously taboo sexual topics. The results were summarized by historian, playwright, and gay-rights activist Martin Duberman, "Instead of Kinsey's 37% (men who had at least one homosexual experience), Gebhard and Johnson came up with 36.4%; the 10% figure (men who were "more or less exclusively homosexual for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55"), with prison inmates excluded, came to 9.9% for white, college-educated males and 12.7% for those with less education. [8]

Historian Peter Gay described Sexual Behavior in the Human Male as "methodologically far from persuasive". [23]

Kinsey scale

The Kinsey scale is used to measure a person's overall balance of heterosexuality and homosexuality, and takes into account both sexual experience and psychosexual reactions. The scale ranges from 0 to 6, with 0 being completely heterosexual and 6 completely homosexual. An additional category, X, was mentioned to describe those who had "no socio-sexual contacts or reactions," [24] which has been cited by scholars to mean asexuality. [25] The scale was first published in Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) by Kinsey, Wardell Pomeroy and others, and was 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 emphasising 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. [26]

The scale is as follows:

0Exclusively heterosexual
1Predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual
2Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual
3Equally heterosexual and homosexual
4Predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual
5Predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual
6Exclusively homosexual
XNo 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. [27]
  • 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. [28] 2 to 6% of females, aged 20–35, were given a rating of 5 [29] and 1 to 3% of unmarried females aged 20–35 were rated as 6. [30]

Marital coitus

The average frequency of marital sex reported by women was 2.8 times a week in the late teens, 2.2 times a week by age 30, and 1.0 times a week by age 50. [31] Kinsey estimated that approximately 50% of all married males had some extramarital experience at some time during their married lives. [32] Among the sample, 26% of females had extramarital sex by their forties. Between 1 in 6 and 1 in 10 females from age 26 to 50 were engaged in extramarital sex. [33] However, Kinsey classified couples who have lived together for at least a year as "married", inflating the statistics for extra-marital sex. [34] [35]


12% of females and 22% of males reported having an erotic response to a sadomasochistic story. [36]


Responses to being bitten: [36]

Erotic ResponsesBy FemalesBy Males
Definite and/or frequent26%26%
Some response29%24%
Number of cases2200567


Data was gathered primarily by means of subjective report interviews, conducted according to a structured questionnaire memorized by the experimenters (but not marked on the response sheet in any way). [37] The response sheets were encoded in this way to maintain the confidentiality of the respondents, being entered on a blank grid using response symbols defined in advance. [37] The data were later computerized for processing. All of this material, including the original researchers' notes, remains available from the Kinsey Institute to qualified researchers who demonstrate a need to view such materials. The institute also allows researchers to use statistical software in order to analyze the data.

Context and significance

The Kinsey Reports, which together sold three-quarters of a million copies and were translated into thirteen languages, may be considered as some of the most successful and influential scientific books of the 20th century. [38] [39] They were also associated with a change in the public perception of sexuality. [38] [39] In the 1960s, following the introduction of the first oral contraceptive, this change was to be expressed in the sexual revolution.[ citation needed ] Additionally, in 1966 Masters and Johnson would publish the first of two texts cataloguing their investigations into the physiology of sex, breaking taboos and misapprehensions similar to those Kinsey had confronted more than a decade earlier in a closely related field. [38] [39]

See also

Related Research Articles

Heterosexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction or sexual behavior between persons of the opposite sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, heterosexuality is "an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions" to persons of the opposite sex; it "also refers to a person's sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions."

Sexology is the scientific study of human sexuality, including human sexual interests, behaviors, and functions. The term sexology does not generally refer to the non-scientific study of sexuality, such as political science or social criticism.

Kinsey scale social distribution of sexual orientation

The Kinsey scale, also called the Heterosexual–Homosexual Rating Scale, is used in research to describe a person's sexual orientation based on one’s 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", indicated "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).

Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction to others, or low or absent interest in or desire for sexual activity. It may be considered a sexual orientation or the lack thereof. It may also be categorized more widely to include a broad spectrum of asexual sub-identities.

The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction was a nonprofit research institute at Indiana University until November 30, 2016, when it merged with Indiana University "abolishing the 1947 independent incorporation absolutely and completely." It was established in Bloomington, Indiana in 1947.

The demographics of sexual orientation vary significantly, and estimates for the LGBT population are subject to controversy and ensuing debates.

A correlation between fraternal birth order and male sexual orientation has been suggested by research. Ray Blanchard identified the association and referred to it as the fraternal birth order effect. In several studies, the observation is that the more older brothers a man has from the same mother, the greater the probability is that he will have a homosexual orientation. It has sometimes been called the older brother effect. It has been estimated that 15% of the homosexual demographic is associated with fraternal birth order.

Blanchard's transsexualism typology, also Blanchard autogynephilia theory and Blanchard's taxonomy, is a psychological typology of male-to-female (MtF) transsexualism created by Ray Blanchard through the 1980s and 1990s, building on the work of his colleague, Kurt Freund. Blanchard divided trans women into two groups: one is "homosexual transsexuals" who, Blanchard says, seek sex reassignment surgery because they are feminine in both behavior and appearance, and to romantically and sexually attract men; and the other is "autogynephilic transsexuals" who, according to Blanchard, are sexually aroused at the idea of having a female body. Blanchard's model is unusual in that neither group is considered "false transsexuals"; both autogynephilic and homosexual transsexuals are thought to benefit from transition. This distinction is a recurring theme in scholarly literature on transsexualism.

Sexual desire discrepancy (SDD) is the difference between one's desired frequency of sexual intercourse and the actual frequency of sexual intercourse within a relationship. Among couples seeking sex therapy, problems of sexual desire are the most commonly reported dysfunctions, yet have historically been the most difficult to treat successfully. Sexual satisfaction in a relationship has a direct relationship with overall relationship satisfaction and relationship well-being. Sexual desire and sexual frequency do not stem from the same domains, sexual desire characterizes an underlying aspect of sexual motivation and is associated with romantic feelings while actual sexual activity and intercourse is associated with the development and advancement of a given relationship. Thus together, sexual desire and sexual frequency can successfully predict the stability of a relationship. While higher individual sexual desire discrepancies among married individuals may undermine overall relationship well-being, higher SDD scores for females may be beneficial for romantic relationships, because those females have high levels of passionate love and attachment to their partner. Studies suggest that women with higher levels of desire relative to that of their partners' may experience fewer relationship adjustment problems than women with lower levels of desire relative to their partners'. Empirical evidence has shown that sexual desire is a factor that heavily influences couple satisfaction and relationship continuity which has been one of the main reasons for the interest in this research domain of human sexuality.

The heterosexual–homosexual continuum or the sexual orientation continuum is a psychological and philosophical understanding of human sexuality that places sexual orientation on a continuous spectrum from heterosexuality to homosexuality, with sexuality ranging from exclusive attraction to the opposite sex to exclusive attraction to the same sex.

The relationship between the environment and sexual orientation is a subject of research. In the study of sexual orientation, some researchers distinguish environmental influences from hormonal influences, while other researchers include biological influences such as prenatal hormones as part of environmental influences.

Bisexuality Sexual attraction to people of any sex or gender identity

Bisexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction, or sexual behavior toward both males and females, or to more than one sex or gender. It may also be defined as romantic or sexual attraction to people of any sex or gender identity, which is also known as pansexuality.

LGBT demographics of the United States

The demographics of sexual orientation and gender identity in the United States have been studied in the social sciences in recent decades. A 2017 Gallup poll concluded that 4.5% of adult Americans identified as LGBT with 5.1% of women identifying as LGBT, compared with 3.9% of men. A different survey in 2016, from the Williams Institute, estimated that 0.6% of U.S. adults identify as transgender.

<i>Sexual Preference</i> (book) book by Martin S. Weinberg

Sexual Preference: Its Development in Men and Women (1981) is a book about the development of sexual orientation by the psychologist Alan P. Bell and the sociologists Martin S. Weinberg and Sue Kiefer Hammersmith, in which the authors reevaluate what were at the time of its publication widely held ideas about the origins of heterosexuality and homosexuality, sometimes rejecting entirely the factors proposed as causes, and in other cases concluding that their importance had been exaggerated. Produced with the help of the American National Institute of Mental Health, the study was a publication of the Institute for Sex Research. Together with its Statistical Appendix, Sexual Preference was the conclusion of a series of books including Homosexuality: An Annotated Bibliography (1972) and Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women (1978), both co-authored by Bell and Weinberg.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to human sexuality:

<i>Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women</i> 1978 book about homosexuality by Martin S. Weinberg

Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women (1978) is a book by the psychologist Alan P. Bell and the sociologist Martin S. Weinberg, in which the authors argue that homosexuality is not necessarily related to pathology and divide homosexuals into five different types. Together with Homosexuality: An Annotated Bibliography (1972), it is part of a series of books that culminated in the publication of Sexual Preference in 1981. The work was a publication of the Institute for Sex Research.

The Sexuality Spectrum is a proposed theory of human sexuality that posits there is a continuum that accounts for every variation of human sexuality/identity without necessarily labeling or defining all of them. The spectrum provides the idea that sexuality/identity is loosely identifiable by specific means or measurements. The human sexuality spectrum contradicts sexuality binaries.

Scales of sexual orientation are classification schemes of different sexual orientations. Definitions of the term sexual orientation normally include two components: the "psychological" and the "behavioral" component, but the definitions of the two components vary between researchers and across time. Those difficulties motivate researchers to define scales to measure and describe sexual orientation. Most sexual behavior and sexual orientation scales are motivated by the view that sexual orientation is a continuum. The Kinsey scale works from a continuum viewpoint and is the most prevalent sexual orientation scale.


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  2. Kinsey, A.; Pomeroy, W.; Martin, C., & Gebhard, P. Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, Philadelphia: Saunders (1953), ISBN   978-0-253-33411-4.
  3. Wolman, Benjamin B.; Money, John (1993). Handbook of Human Sexuality. J. Aronson. p. 131. ISBN   978-0-87668-775-8.
  4. LeVay, Simon (February 1997). City of Friends: A Portrait of the Gay and Lesbian Community in America. MIT Press. p. 51. ISBN   978-0-262-62113-7.
  5. Salter, Ph.D., Anna C. (1988). Treating Child Sex Offenders and Victims: A Practical Guide. Sage Publications Inc. pp. 22–24. ISBN   978-0-8039-3182-4.
  6. Kinsey Institute statement denies child abuse in study Archived 2013-01-23 at the Wayback Machine
  7. Welsh-Huggins, Andrews (September 1995). "Conservative group attacks Kinsey data on children". Herald-Times. Providing such absolute assurances of anonymity was the only way to guarantee honest answers on such taboo subjects, said Gebhard.
  8. 1 2 Martin Duberman on Gebhart's "cleaning" of data Archived 2009-01-11 at the Wayback Machine
  9. Townsend, John Marshall; Levy, Gary D. (1990-04-01). "Effects of potential partners' physical attractiveness and socioeconomic status on sexuality and partner selection". Archives of Sexual Behavior. 19 (2): 149–164. doi:10.1007/BF01542229. ISSN   0004-0002.
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  11. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, Table 147, p. 651
  12. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, p. 651
  13. Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, Table 142, p. 499
  14. Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, p. 488
  15. Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, Table 142, p. 499, and p. 474
  16. "Report on Kinsey". Francis Sill Wickware. LIFE Magazine, Aug. 2, 1948. Link:
  17. David Leonhardt (July 28, 2000). "John Tukey, 85, Statistician; Coined the Word 'Software'". The New York Times .
  18. John Tukey criticizes sample procedure
  19. Maslow, A. H., and Sakoda, J. (1952). Volunteer error in the Kinsey study, Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 1952 Apr;47(2):259-62.
  20. Cochran, William G; Mosteller, Frederick; Tukey, John W; American Statistical Association; National Research Council (U.S.); Committee for Research in Problems of Sex (1954). Statistical problems of the Kinsey report on sexual behavior in the human male: a report of the American Statistical Association committee to advise the National Research Council, Committee for Research in Problems of Sex. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. OCLC   2908863.
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  22. New River Media. "NEW RIVER MEDIA INTERVIEW WITH: PAUL GEBHARD Colleague of Alfred Kinsey 1946-1956 Former Director of the Kinsey Institute". Retrieved May 27, 2017.
  23. Gay, Peter (1986). The Bourgeois Experience Victoria to Freud. Volume II: The Tender Passion. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 447. ISBN   978-0-19-503741-8.
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  25. Mary Zeiss Stange, Carol K. Oyster, Jane E. Sloan (2011). Encyclopedia of Women in Today's World. Sage Pubns. p. 158. ISBN   9781412976855 . Retrieved December 17, 2011.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
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  27. Kinsey, et al. 1948. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, Table 147, p. 651
  28. Kinsey, et al. 1953. Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, Table 142, p. 499
  29. Kinsey, et al. 1953. Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, p. 488
  30. Kinsey, et al. 1953. Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, Table 142, p. 499, and p. 474
  31. Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, p. 348-349, 351.
  32. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, pp. 585, 587
  33. Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, p. 416
  34. Kinsey, Alfred. Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, p. 53.
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  36. 1 2 Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, pp. 677-678
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