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The Kinsey Reports are two books on human sexual behavior, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953), by Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey, Wardell Pomeroy and others. Kinsey was a zoologist at the Indiana University at Bloomington and the founder of the Institute for Sex Research.

The research astounded the general public and was immediately controversial and sensational. The findings caused shock and outrage, both because they challenged conventional beliefs about sexuality and because they discussed subjects that had previously been taboo. The belief that heterosexuality and abstinence were both ethical and statistical norms had never before been seriously challenged.


Sexual orientation

Probably the most widely cited findings of the Kinsey Reports regard the prevalence of different sexual orientations — especially to support a claim that 10% of the population are gay. In fact, the findings are not so straightforward, and Kinsey himself avoided and disapproved of using terms like homosexual or heterosexual to describe individuals, noting that sexuality is prone to change over time, and that sexual behaviour can be understood both as physical contact as well as purely psychic phenomena (desire, sexual attraction, fantasy). Instead of three-categories (heterosexual, bisexual and homosexual), a seven point scale was used. The Kinsey scale ranked sexual behaviour from 0 to 6, with 0 being completely heterosexual and 6 completely homosexual. A 1 was considered predominantly heterosexual and only incidentally homosexual, a 2 mostly heterosexual and more than incidentally homosexual, a 3 equally homosexual and heterosexual, and so on.

The reports found that nearly 46% of the male population had engaged in both heterosexual and homosexual activities, or "reacted to" persons of both sexes, in the course of their adult lives.[1]. 11.6% of white males (ages 20-35) were given a rating of 3 (about equal heterosexual and homosexual experience/response) throughout their adult lives.[2] The study also reported that 10% of American males surveyed were "more or less exclusively homosexual for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55"[3] (in the 5 to 6 range).

7% of single females (ages 20-35) and 4% of previously married females (ages 20-35) were given a rating of 3 (about equal heterosexual and homosexual experience/response) on the 7-point Kinsey Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale for this period of their lives.[4] 2 to 6% of females, aged 20-35, were more or less exclusively homosexual in experience/response.[5]


62% of females reported that they had masturbated.[6] 45% of females who reported having masturbated indicated that they could reach orgasm within 3 minutes.[7] 92% of males reported that they had masturbated.[8]

Marital coitus

The average frequency of marital sex reported by women was 2.8 times a week, in late teens; 2.2 times a week, by age 30; and 1.0 times a week, by age 50.[9]

Extra-marital sex

Kinsey estimated that approximately 50% of all married males had some extramarital experience at some time during their married lives.[10] Among the sample, 26% of females had had extramarital sex by their forties. Between 1 in 6 and 1 in 10 females from age 26 to 50 were engaged in extramarital sex.[11]


12% of females and 22% of males reported having an erotic response to a sadomasochistic story, and 55% of females and 50% of males reported having responded erotically to being bitten.[12]


Data was gathered primarily by means of interviews, which were encoded to maintain confidentiality. Other data sources included the diaries of convicted child molesters. The data were later computerised for processing. All of this material, including the original researchers' notes, remains available from the Kinsey Institute to qualified researchers who demonstrate a need to view such materials. The institute also allows researchers to submit SPSS programs to be run on the data, which remains a unique resource in both the size of the survey and the care with which it was documented.

The statistics were more carefully compiled and interpreted than was common at the time, and his subjects' confidentiality more carefully protected. However, his subject lent itself to sensationalism. Based on his data and findings, others claimed that 10% of the population are homosexual, and that women enhance their prospects of satisfaction in marriage by masturbating previously. Neither claim was made by Kinsey, but both were (and continue to be) attributed to him.


The core criticisms of the work revolve around sample selection and sample bias. 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" [1]. 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. A related criticism, by some of the leading psychologists of the day, notably Abraham Maslow, was that he (Kinsey) did not consider the bias created by the data representing only those who were willing to participate.

In a response to these criticisms, Paul Gebhard, Kinsey's successor as director of the Kinsey Institute for Sex Research, spent years "cleaning" the Kinsey data of its purported contaminants, removing, for example, all material derived from prison populations in the basic sample. In 1979, Gebhard (with Alan B. Johnson) published The Kinsey Data: Marginal Tabulations of the 1938-1963 Interviews Conducted by the Institute for Sex Research. Their conclusion, to Gebhard's surprise he claimed, was that none of Kinsey's original estimates were significantly affected by this bias.

Professor Martin Duberman writes:

Instead of Kinsey's 37 %, Gebhard and Johnson came up with 36.4 %; the 10 % figure (with prison inmates excluded) came to 9.9 % for white, college-educated males and 12.7 % for those with less education. And as for the call for a "random sample," a team of independent statisticians studying Kinsey's procedures had concluded as far back as 1953 that the unique problems inherent in sex research precluded the possibility of obtaining a true random sample, and that Kinsey's interviewing technique had been "extraordinarily skillful." They characterized Kinsey's work overall as "a monumental endeavor." [2]

Conjecture of child abuse

In the Kinsey Reports are data concerning pre-adolescent orgasms. Particularly controversial are tables 30 through 34 of the male volume. For example, table 34 is, "Examples of multiple orgasm in pre-adolescent males. Some instances of higher frequencies." A typical entry indicates that a certain 7 year-old had seven orgasms in a three hour time period. Kinsey's critics state that data such as these could have only been obtained by direct observation of or participation in child abuse. In particular they point to the information given in table 32, "Speed of pre-adolescent orgasm; Duration of stimulation before climax; Observations timed with second hand or stop watch," and say that the only way such precise data could have been collected was through cooperation with child molesters.

The Kinsey institute states unequivocally on its website, "[Kinsey] did not carry out experiments on children; he did not hire, collaborate, or persuade people to carry out experiments on children." It goes on to say,

Kinsey clearly stated in his male volume the sources of information about children's sexual responses. The bulk of this information was obtained from adults recalling their own childhoods. Some was from parents who had observed their children, some from teachers who had observed children interacting or behaving sexually, and Kinsey stated that there were nine men who he had interviewed who had sexual experiences with children who had told him about how the children had responded and reacted. We believe that one of those men was the source of the data listed in the book.

Organized opposition

Some conservative groups including RSVPAmerica, headed by Dr Judith A. Reisman, and the Family Research Council have stated that they aim to discredit the Kinsey Reports. These groups often accuse Kinsey's work of promoting "unhealthy" sexual practices or morals.

RSVPAmerica advertises publications such as Kinsey: Crimes & Consequences and Kinsey, Sex and Fraud: The Indoctrination of a People, both by Reisman, and the video "The Children of Table 34", funded by the Family Research Council. The campaign website states that the video "presents the story of Dr. Reisman's discovery of Dr. Alfred Kinsey's systematic sexual abuse of 317 male children".

In its 1998 response [3] to the core allegations made by Reisman, Kinsey Institute director John Bancroft stated that the data on children in tables 31-34 of Kinsey's Sexual Behavior of the Human Male came largely from the journal of one adult "omniphile", who had illegal sexual interaction with these children. The man's journal started in 1917, long before the Kinsey Reports. Bancroft further stated that Kinsey explicitly pointed out the illegality of the man's actions, but that he granted his source anonymity. In addition, Bancroft reiterated the Kinsey Institute's claim that Kinsey never had any sexual interaction with children, nor did he employ others to do so, and that he interviewed children in the presence of their parents.

Other attacks have centered on the sex life and motives of Kinsey himself (see Alfred C. Kinsey), or have claimed that the Kinsey Reports are themselves responsible for decay in society.

The APA set up a committee to review the evidence and they produced a report entitled Statistical Problems of the Kinsey Report on Sexual Behavior in the Human Male

The reports in context

The Kinsey reports are associated with a change in public perception of sexuality. In the 1960s, following the introduction of the oral contraceptive, this change was to be expressed in the sexual revolution. Also in the 1960s, Masters and Johnson published their investigations into the physiology of sex, breaking taboos and misapprehensions similar to those Kinsey had broken more than a decade earlier in a closely related field.

To what extent the reports produced or promoted this change and to what extent they merely expressed it and reflected the conditions that were producing it is a matter of much debate and speculation.

Many of Kinsey's conclusions, while radical for the time, are now generally accepted. The reports continue to be widely cited and regarded as a significant piece of original research material.

See also

  • Alfred Kinsey
  • Kinsey, the movie based on the life of Alfred Kinsey


  • M. Duberman [4]
  • A.C. Kinsey, W.B. Pomeroy, C.E. Martin, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, (Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders, 1948). ISBN 0253334128.
  • A.C. Kinsey, W.B. Pomeroy, C.E. Martin, P.H. Gebhard, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, (Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders, 1953). ISBN 025333411X.
  • Dr. Judith A. Reisman, Edward W. Eichel, Dr. John H. Court & Dr. J. Gordon Muir, Kinsey, Sex and Fraud, (Lafayette, LA: Lochinvar-Huntington House Publishers, 1990).
  • Katz, Jonathan Ned (1995) The Invention of Heterosexuality. NY, NY: Dutton (Penguin Books). ISBN 0525938451


  1. Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male, p. 656
  2. Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male, Table 147, p. 651
  3. Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male, p. 651
  4. Sexual Behaviour in the Human Female, Table 142, p. 499
  5. Sexual Behaviour in the Human Female, p. 488
  6. Sexual Behaviour of the Human Female, p. 142
  7. Sexual Behaviour of the Human Female, p. 163
  8. Sexual Behaviour of the Human Male, p. 499
  9. Sexual Behaviour of the Human Female, p. 348-349, 351.
  10. Sexual Behaviour of the Human Male, pp. 585, 587
  11. Sexual Behaviour of the Human Female, p. 416
  12. Sexual Behaviour of the Human Female, pp. 677-678

External links

cs:Kinseyovy zprávy de:Kinsey-Report es:Informe Kinsey ko:킨제이 보고서 pt:Estudos de Kinsey

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