Dr. Albert Charles Kinsey and His Famous Work: The Kinsey Scale


This entry is going to be about Dr. Alfred Charles Kinsey, who has recently been an important figure in the history of sexuality. He proposed the Kinsey scale, which is shown below and categorizes sexuality on a range of 1-6, which is briefly explained by the numbers. Alfred Kinsey and his work, thought published in the 1950’s, are still controversial today.

Much of Kinsey’s work is both controversial and helpful to both the glbtq community and the heterosexual. His extensive biography can probably be found in multiple books, but a brief biography can be found on wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Kinsey.

Here is a brief description of the acclaimed scholar:

“Alfred Charles Kinsey (June 23, 1894August 25, 1956), was an American biologist and professor of entomology and zoology, who in 1947 founded the Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University, now called the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction. Kinsey’s research on human sexuality profoundly influenced social and cultural values in the United States and many other countries. It was also deeply controversial because he failed to report research subjects who had admitted to sexually abusing children despite the risk that they might reoffend.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Kinsey)

As an introduction to Kinsey’s study here is an excerpt from of the sites dedicated to the famous scale:

“Kinsey suggested that is is necessary to consider a variety of activities in assessing an individual’s ranking on the continuum: fantasies, thoughts, dreams, emotional feelings, and frequency of sexual activity.

Therefore, many “heterosexuals,” in fact, would fall somewhere between numbers 0-3 because they occasionally think/dream/fantasize about sexual activities with members of the same sex and/or occasionally act on these feelings.” (http://allies.tamu.edu/Did%20You%20Know/kinsey.htm)

Kinsey Scale

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, (p 639).

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, (pp. 639, 656)

Kinsey, et al. (1948). Sexual Behavior in the Human Male.

[picture of Kinsey scale]
0- Exclusively heterosexual with no homosexual
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
6- Exclusively homosexual

(Kinsey 1948), p. 638

The above material has been acquired from the website (http://www.kinseyinstitute.org/resources/ak-hhscale.html© 1996-<!–var todaysDate = new Date();var todaysyr = todaysDate.getYear();if (todaysyr < “2000″) {todaysyr = 1900 + todaysyr;}document.write(todaysyr)//–>2008 , The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, Inc.)]

To consider:

The thing to consider about this scale is that asexuals are not included, although later Kinsey’s colleagues added the number 7 to the scale for people who identify as asexual. It is all based on a bisexual scale, meaning that there are two sexes and only two sexes that people can be attracted to. It does not consider transexuals, transgendered persons, or people who are intersexed. It also does not consider power dynamics and fetishes, though it can. As a disclaimer, this is not what I believe in, but something that I feel everyone should know about because information influences belief and conclusions people make. Once you are subject to information, you can decide for yourself what you believe about sexuality.

Also the Kinsey scale can be used as a sexual orientation measuring device, sort of like a sexuality ruler, but its number does not confine you, your family member, etc to any sexual behavior.

Further Resources and Fun

1. If you want to find out for yourself where you lie on the scale, you can take this quiz (though I’m not sure how reliable it is) : http://quizfarm.com/test.php?q_id=4827.

2. Here is the website to the Kinsey Institute itself, named after the Doctor where you can find books, more information about Kinsey, and education programs: http://www.kinseyinstitute.org/index.html


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Filed under Education, Sexuality

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