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The Kinsey Scale

What is the “The Kinsey Scale”?
How do I take the Kinsey test?
Are there other scales or tests?

Kinsey Scale T-shirts now available!

Copyright © The Kinsey Institute

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

What is “The Kinsey Scale?”

The Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale, sometimes referred to as the “Kinsey Scale,” was developed by Alfred Kinsey and his colleagues Wardell Pomeroy and Clyde Martin in 1948, in order to account for research findings that showed people did not fit into neat and exclusive heterosexual or homosexual categories.

Interviewing people about their sexual histories, the Kinsey team found that, for many people, sexual behavior, thoughts and feelings towards the same or opposite sex was not always consistent across time. Though the majority of men and women reported being exclusively heterosexual, and a percentage reported exclusively homosexual behavior and attractions, many individuals disclosed behaviors or thoughts somewhere in between.

As Kinsey writes in Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948):
“Males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual. The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats…The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects.”

The authors add in Sexual Behavior of the Human Female (1953):

“It is a characteristic of the human mind that tries to dichotomize in its classification of phenomena….Sexual behavior is either normal or abnormal, socially acceptable or unacceptable, heterosexual or homosexual; and many persons do not want to believe that there are gradations in these matters from one to the other extreme.”

Kinsey also reported:

“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).


How do I take the Kinsey test?

There is no ‘test.’ The scale is purely a method of self-evaluation based on your individual experience, and the rating you choose may change over time.

The 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 or sexual activity with either sex.

Are there other scales or tests?

The Klein Sexual Orientation Grid, developed by Fritz Klein, expands on Kinsey’s scale with 7 variables and 3 situations in time: past, present and ideal.

Selected References that Discuss the Kinsey Scale

University of Illinois at Springfield, Student Affairs Office. (2009). Continuum of Human Sexuality. (pdf) [A short non-technical discussion of sexual orientation and the Kinsey Scale.]

Diamond, Milton. (1993). Homosexuality and bisexuality in different populations. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 22(4), 291-310. [Uses Kinsey Scale to standardize and measure later studies’ findings.]

Hansen, Charles E., and Evans, A. (1985). Bisexuality reconsidered: An idea in pursuit of a definition. Journal of Homosexuality, 11(1-2), 1-6. [Provides critique of Kinsey Scale and calls for other measures for bisexuality.]

Kinsey, Alfred C. et al. (1948/1998).  Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders; Bloomington: Indiana U. Press. [First publication of Kinsey’s Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale. Discusses Kinsey Scale, pp. 636-659.]

Kinsey, Alfred C. et al. (1953/1998).  Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders; Bloomington: Indiana U. Press. [Discusses the Kinsey Scale and presents comparisons of male and female data, pp. 468-475.]

McWhirter, David P., et al. (1990). Homosexuality/Heterosexuality: Concepts of Sexual Orientation. New York: Oxford University Press. [Based on symposium at The Kinsey Institute. Discusses sexual orientation and the current usefulness of the Kinsey Scale. Includes other scales proposed by contributors to this work. One such scale is the Coleman Model of Clinical Assessment of Sexual Orientation.]

Ross, Michael W. (1983). Femininity, masculinity, and sexual orientation: Some cross-cultural comparisons. Journal of Homosexuality, 9(1), 27-35. [Combines the Bem Scale with Kinsey Scale across different nationalities.]

Sell, Randall L. (1997). Defining and measuring sexual orientation: A review. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 26(6), 643-658. [Outlines Kinsey Scale, Klein Scale, and Shively/DeCecco Scale.]

Van Wyk, Paul H., and Geist, Chrisann S. (1984). Psychosocial development of heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual behavior. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 13(6), 505-544. [Adds a family development model to the Kinsey Scale.]
Selected References on Other Measures of Sexual Orientation

Chung, Y. Barry, and Katayama, Motoni. (1996). Assessment of sexual orientation in lesbian/gay/bisexual studies. Journal of Homosexuality, 30(4), 49-62. [Critically reviews methods for assessing sexual orientation.]

Davis, Clive M., et al. (1997). Handbook of Sexuality-Related Measures. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publications. [Includes 14 measures of homosexualities, one for heterosexual preferences. There are also related measures for gender, masculinity, femininity, and transsexualism..]

Ellis, Lee, et al. (1987). Sexual orientation as a continuous variable: A comparison between the sexes. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 16(6), 523-529. [Measures sexual orientation in two facets: 1) experience measure; and 2) a fantasy measure.]

Gonsiorek, John C., and Weinrich, James D. (1995). Definition and measurement of sexual orientation. Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior, 25(Suppl), 40-51. [Critically examines how sexual orientation is measured and defined.]

Klein, Fritz, et al. (1985). Sexual orientation: A multi-variable dynamic process. Journal of Homosexuality, 11(1-2), 35-49. [Discusses the problem of lack of clear, widely accepted definitions of heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual].
Read more on the Klein Grid at The American Institute of Bisexuality

Sell, Randall L. (1996). The Sell Assessment of Sexual Orientation: Background and scoring. Journal of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Identity, 1(4), 295-310. [Includes review of sexual orientation measures, which are characterized as dichotomous, bipolar, multidimensional, and/or orthogonal.]