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The Kinsey scale, also called the Heterosexual–Homosexual Rating Scale, attempts to describe a person's sexual experience or response at a given time. It uses a scale 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"; in modern times, this represents asexuality. 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)
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).
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?".
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|
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 took 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.