Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 103–110

Prevalence and Stability of Self-Reported Sexual Orientation Identity During Young Adulthood

  • Ritch C. Savin-Williams
  • Kara Joyner
  • Gerulf Rieger
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10508-012-9913-y

Cite this article as:
Savin-Williams, R.C., Joyner, K. & Rieger, G. Arch Sex Behav (2012) 41: 103. doi:10.1007/s10508-012-9913-y

Abstract

Based on date from Wave 3 and Wave 4 from National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (N = 12,287), known as Add Health, the majority of young adults identified their sexual orientation as 100% heterosexual. The second largest identity group, “mostly heterosexual,” was larger than all other nonheterosexual identities combined. Comparing distributions across waves, which were approximately 6 years apart, stability of sexual orientation identity was more common than change. Stability was greatest among men and those identifying as heterosexual. Individuals who identified as 100% homosexual reported nearly the same level of stability as 100% heterosexuals. The bisexual category was the most unstable, with one quarter maintaining that status at Wave 4. Bisexual men who changed their identity distributed themselves among all other categories; among bisexual women, the most common shift was toward mostly heterosexual. Reflecting changes in identity, the proportion of heterosexuals decreased between the two waves.

Keywords

Sexual orientation Sexual identity Prevalence Adulthood Add Health 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ritch C. Savin-Williams
    • 1
  • Kara Joyner
    • 2
  • Gerulf Rieger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Human DevelopmentCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyBowling Green State UniversityBowling GreenUSA

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