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The Kinsey Scale Explained

In the study of sexuality, you’ll probably come across the Kinsey Scale. But what was it?

Added to Library, on 14 July, 2015

The Kinsey Scale Explained

The Kinsey Scale, whilst considered somewhat outdated now, was revolutionary at the time: and highly controversial. It was controversial because it suggested that there was more to sexuality than simply being “heterosexual” or “homosexual”.

It is easy to look at the Scale, published in 1948, and laugh at it as being a sign of ‘progress’. But Kinsey’s work on sexuality was, especially at a time when homosexuality was socially forbidden, and still seen as a mental disease.

It offered a scale of 0 – 6, with 0 meaning ‘exclusively heterosexual’, and 1 meaning ‘exclusively heterosexual’. It also offered a different classification, ‘X’, for those who did not engage in sexual behaviours (what we now know as asexual). The scale was described as followed:

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0 Exclusively heterosexual
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
X No socio-sexual contacts or reactions


Since its publication, numerous alternatives and expansions to the scale have been proposed.

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The Kinsey Scale Explained