Sexuality Today...

Does the most famous finding of the Kinsey Report, the one stating that 10% of the American population is gay, still apply today?

I know several people in their early 20’s that are just very sexual, males and females. Neither gay or straight or bi, necessarily, just sexual. Some eventually label themselves, some refuse to. Their formative years were heavily influenced by the easy accessibility of porn on the internet, while I had to sneak glimpses of porn magazines back in the 80’s. I don’t recall sexuality being so open when I was in my 20’s.

Have there been updates made to the Kinsey Report, and if so, how? How would the researchers estimate a non-heterosexual population when people can be much more casual about their same sex experiences then they were when the report was first made?

I have considered that since I live in California the people I know in their early 20’s here might be less exposed to the social stigma’s surrounding homo/bi-sexuality.

The lines separating gay from bi and straight have always been extremely blurry. It’s not possible to come up with a definite percentage. I have always suspected that if we can eliminate societal pressures, the Kinsey chart would be a symmetrical bell curve, with the vast majority of the population being more-or-less bisexual. But of course even that would be open to interpretation. Undoubtedly, some of today’s kids have a greater freedom to act out their sexuality; more gay people experimenting with hetero sex, and vice-versa . . . but that wouldn’t have an effect on their “core” orientation.

The Kinsey report is not considered to be accurate by all sexologists.

It’s not wrong, but not 100% right either. It has merit, but has some flaws too. Basically it comes down to that Kinsey was biased and trying to explain his own sexuality through research. And no one has been able to conduct a survey of people about sexuality and get honest answers reliably.

The 10% figure is considered to be a high estimate. But most sex psychologists and psychiatrists do agree that people have varying degrees of homosexual and or hedonistic propensity. But its not as cut and dry as Kinsey’s scale would have it be.

The main part of the Kinsey report is that Gay/Straight isn’t a binary issue. People who consider themselves gay or straight have found themselves in the opposite long term relationship. What we have is a range of sexual interests and behaviors that may come out according to circumstances and social situations.

There might be more people now who are now “out of the closet” than back in the original report because there’s less stigma attached to it, but their basic outline (10% of the male population has almost no attraction to the opposite sex, but only to the other males) still holds.

I would be absolutely shocked by a bell curve-- a power curve is much likelier. Homosexuality, whether 2% or 10%, is still an outlier, and one must figure that bisexuality is also not equally distributed.

I’m not sure that very many people who consider themselves straight have found themselves in a long term gay relationship outside of prison, but otherwise I agree.

from Wikipedia article

Objections to methodology

In addition to moral objections, academic criticisms pertain to sample selection and sample bias. Two main problems identified were that (1) significant portions of the samples come from prison populations and male prostitutes, and that (2) people who volunteer to be interviewed about taboo subject are likely to suffer from the problem of self-selection, both of which 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.”[21][22] Criticism principally revolved around the over-representation of some groups in the sample: 25% were, or had been, prison inmates, and 5% were male prostitutes.[23]


The guy lied with statistics. Then his lies were further propagated by people who liked the message.

You’d be surprised how many “tops” don’t consider themselves gay. Self-delusion and denial.

This seems highly, highly dubious, given the fact in pretty much every other species on the planet, homosexual behavior is atypical. It’s more common in some than others, but in none does it come anywhere near to 50%.

Moreover, I’m not aware of any culture in human history – thousands of them, scattered across time and geography and quite diverse – where what we’d call a homosexual orientation was anywhere clsoe to 50%.

It seems quite a stretch to suggest that “societal pressures” are all that’s keeping people from doing something that is biologically unprecedented, and, from an evolutionary standpoint, suboptimal.

But what I’m challenging is the idea that most people are 100% heterosexual, and only a small minority of people are gay or even bisexual. My point is that ***both ***extremes of the Kinsey scale are small . . . even if the curve is asymmetrical. Of course, there’s no way of knowing; there’s no way to remove societal influences.

Apologies, but with my mind-reading machine on the blink, I’m reduced to actually going by what you say, not what you say you really meant.

In any event, I’d suggest that my point still holds. There are precious few, if any, species on the planet of any kind (let alone higher mammals) who exhibit behavior of the kind you describe. The vast majority of animals are heterosexual the vast majority of the time. From an evolutionary standpoint, the reasons are obvious.

Homo Sapiens has the most diverse sex life of any species on the planet; it’s also the only one with anything we can call “culture.” ISTM a sounder hypothesis would be that the influence of culture has encouraged the flowering of diverse forms of sexual expression.

I think there may be some difference in how homosexual or bisexual are defined. If, for instance, you define homosexual as ‘only ever having had sex with men’, then it’s going to be a much smaller group than ‘currently only has sex with men’ which is smaller than ‘is attracted to men’. It’s especially significant for bisexuality, which could conceivably range from ‘currently has sex with men and women’ (a fairly small group) to ‘is sometimes attracted to men and women’, which would be a much larger group. I suspect panache45 is going be the latter; in which case, ‘the vast majority of the population being more-or-less bisexual’ is going to include a lot of ‘less bisexual’ people who are primarily straight or gay. That makes a lot of sense to me - in my experience, at some point, most people have at least a crush on someone of their non-preferred gender, which to me would fall under very slightly bisexual.

My personal feeling (am a bi male) is that the 10% figure is too high; I’m thinking more like 2% - 5%, and am assuming that “gay” means gay, not bi. Now, having said that, I’m willing to admit that it’s credible to say that 10% have tried it.

There was a newer study done, for which I have the book, but I can’t retrieve it until tomorrow. If I recall correctly, out and out gay was something like 1-2%, whereas having had any kind of male male sexual activity during one’s lifetime was something like 6-8%.

This is not actually what the Kinsey Reports said. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male claimed that 10% of American men were more or less exclusively homosexual (Kinsey scale ranking of 5-6) for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55. While most men in this group today would probably consider themselves homosexual, it could also include men who more or less exclusively slept with women for the other 36 years between the ages of 16 and 55.

Note also that the 10% figure applied to American men, not the total American population. Sexual Behavior in the Human Female estimated that a smaller percentage (6% or less) of American women were more or less exclusively homosexual, although IIRC that report used different methodology than the one for men so it may not be possible to accurately compare the results.

While I certainly strongly agree that homosexual behavior is atypical in most species, I simply cannot let that last phrase go unopposed for it is misleading at best as it stands (which I point out for other readers, as I’ve learned a lesson recently).

But first, your assertion that “It’s more common in some than others, but in none does it come anywhere near to 50%” is just plain false. From Homosexual Behavior in Bonobo and other apes

As for your misleading assertion that homosexual behavior is somehow evolutionarily “suboptimal”, I won’t bother taking the time and effort to debunk that claim at any length here, but I’ll just cite the very next item in the article I linked to above (with added emphasis):

The big problem with Kinsey was in the failed inference - if you want a reliable estimate of the prevalence of a particular sexual mode in the US male population, then you’re going to need a proper random sampling scheme, and proper survey instruments.

Kinsey’s success was in developing innovative survey techniques for illicit and sensitive items, as well as a more subtle scheme for classifying human sexuality.

But his sampling and inference were shit.

Again, “obvious” is one thing this most certainly is not! Not once one familiarizes oneself with the science involved. A scientifically well-informed thinker will see that homosexuality and homosexual behavior both have evolutionary and reproductive fitness-enhancing effects in some contexts. Contexts that are significantly more common than you appear to realize.

Such exaggerations! The samples were unrepresentative, sure, but he didn’t invent or fabricate anything, nor did he fudge his statistics, nor was he guilty of scientific fraud or “lying”. He knew he needed samples as large as he could find, but, at that secretive and sexually repressed time, he had to take what he could get.

After all, this Tukey person or anyone else couldn’t have criticized Kinsey’s samples if Kinsey himself had not accurately documented the constituents of these samples in his own work!

And to condemn those who cited Kinsey’s work as “liars” who cited that work because they “liked the message” is completely unjust and uncalled for. You will always find a number of methodological and statistic criticisms to any research, so to expect those who cited Kinsey’s work to have necessarily even heard of John Tukey, his work, or even the American Statistical Association – let alone had enough knowledge of statistical problems to understand Tukey’s assessment (which the piece you cite claimed was at the extreme end of the spectrum) – is simply not fair. Not fair at all.

Kinsey’s data was the best there was for quite some time because those who funded such work got very cold feet after the repressed and clueless public reaction to such work. So what should they have done instead of citing Kinsey? Made up their own numbers, as those who hate and fear homosexuals did and continue to do?

The “max 2% or 5%” figures tossed around today is a result of comparing apples to apple seeds. By all accounts, Kinsey’s personality was such that he was very easy to talk to and so people were less inhibited in revealing their true selves. But such familiarity is understandably considered unprofessional and insufficiently clinical these days, so ordinary people pick up on these things and are thus less likely to be fully candid with some guy in a white lab coat. And the penile sphygmomanometer measurements while observing sexual stimuli that have been used in lieu of or in addition to interviews yield significantly poorer quality data than is or has been generally believed. And people in an fMRI rig shouldn’t be assumed to respond the same way they would when not being observed either.

It seems to me there is an existing technology that could be adapted for these measurements (monitoring relatively involuntary eye movements), but even that might well not yield reliable measurements if the subject knew his or her eye movements were being monitored.

In the last analysis, the assertion that “lying” was involved at all is quite unfounded.

ambushed, neither dolphins nor bonobos are majority homosexual. While most sex acts among bonobos are between members of the same sex, most of those females will also have sex with males, making bonobos predominantly bisexual, not homosexual. To be fair, though, there is a species of reptile which is exclusively female (they reproduce parthenogenically), and among which therefore all sexual acts are lesbian.