The Kinsey Reports

The Kinsey Reports


The Main Points

  • Two books on human sexual behavior (Sexual Behavior in the Human Male and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female)
  • Written after a study done by zoologist Dr. Alfred Kinsey, founder of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction
  • Published in 1948 and 1953
  • The original studies were conducted five years apart—first on men, then on women
  • Over 10,000 men and women were interviewed about their sexual habits
  • There was a 7 point scale used to determine sexual orientation:




Exclusively heterosexual


Predominately heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual


Predominately heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual




Predominately homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual


Predominately homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual


Exclusively homosexual


(Asexuality and Pansexuality were not included)


(Today, sexologist view the scale as relevant to sexual orientation, but not comprehensive enough to deal with all sexual identity issues.)

The Findings

  • Found that people in America were doing all sorts of “taboo” things.
  • Showed that about 4% of men were exclusively homosexual
  • About 2-6% of females were exclusively homosexual
  • About 46% of men had “reacted” sexually to persons of both sexes; 37% of men had had some sort of homosexual experience leading to orgasm
  • 20% of women had had some sort of homosexual experience; 13% had had one that led to orgasm
  • 12% of females and 22% of males reported having an erotic response to a sadomasochistic story
  • Showed that women were less sexually active than men on all accounts, but still more sexual than traditional views allowed.
  • Showed that men and women were more alike in their biological sexuality than originally thought and that sexuality seemed shaped by and oppressed by social and cultural forces
  • The methodology of the study was called into question citing two main problems: that large samples used were prison inmates and male prostitutes and that those who would volunteer to discuss taboo subjects are likely to suffer from the problem of “self selection” which would cause a bias in the results
  • In response, Kinsey’s successor Paul Gebhard, cleaned the reports and republished in 1979 and stated that none of Kinsey’s original estimates were significantly affected by this bias

The Reactions

  • The release of these reports caused a huge scandal.
  • Over 200,000 Americans bought copies of Sexual Behavior in the Human Male in the two months after its publication
  • The release of Sexual Behavior in the Human Female  brought about an even greater reaction. By this time America had entered the Cold War  and was in the midst of McCarthyism. A congressional committee launched an investigation into Kinsey’s and his funders’ possible connections to the Communist Party; after this the researcher lost his funding
  • Rev. Billy Graham said it would bring about the destruction of American Christian values.
  • Showed that homosexuality was not as rare as originally thought and therefore it could not really be pathological because with those numbers you could not have a functioning society. (This was published at a time when the DSM still considered homosexuality sociopathic.)
  • One of the greatest things the release of these reports did was bring sex to the forefront of culture so it could be discussed intelligently rather than stay hidden in bedrooms.


Here’s the link to actual articles written after the publication:

And here’s the youtube link:


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