Who's Gay? Does It Matter?

Author: Savin-Williams, Ritch C.

Source: Current Directions in Psychological Science, Volume 15, Number 1, February 2006 , pp. 40-44(5)

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

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To answer the question “Who's gay?”—and its logical follow-up, “Does it matter?”—researchers usually define homosexuality with reference to one of three components or expressions of sexual orientation: sexual/romantic attraction or arousal, sexual behavior, and sexual identity. Yet, the three components are imperfectly correlated and inconsistently predictive of each other, resulting in dissimilar conclusions regarding the number and nature of homosexual populations. Depending on which component is assessed, the prevalence rate of homosexuality in the general population ranges from 1 to 21%. When investigators define the homosexual population based on same-sex behavior or identity, they enhance the possibility of finding a biological basis for homosexuality and a compromised mental health (suicidality).

Keywords: gay; sexual behavior; sexual identity; sexual orientation; sexual/romantic attraction

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0963-7214.2006.00403.x

Affiliations: Cornell University

Publication date: February 1, 2006

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