Original Paper

Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 341-356

First online:

Asexuality: Classification and Characterization

  • Nicole PrauseAffiliated withDepartment of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana UniversityThe Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, Indiana University
  • , Cynthia A. GrahamAffiliated withThe Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, Indiana UniversityOxford Doctoral Course in Clinical Psychology, Isis Education Centre, Warneford Hospital Email author 

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The term “asexual” has been defined in many different ways and asexuality has received very little research attention. In a small qualitative study (N = 4), individuals who self-identified as asexual were interviewed to help formulate hypotheses for a larger study. The second larger study was an online survey drawn from a convenience sample designed to better characterize asexuality and to test predictors of asexual identity. A convenience sample of 1,146 individuals (N = 41 self-identified asexual) completed online questionnaires assessing sexual history, sexual inhibition and excitation, sexual desire, and an open-response questionnaire concerning asexual identity. Asexuals reported significantly less desire for sex with a partner, lower sexual arousability, and lower sexual excitation but did not differ consistently from non-asexuals in their sexual inhibition scores or their desire to masturbate. Content analyses supported the idea that low sexual desire is the primary feature predicting asexual identity.


Asexual Asexuality Sexual arousability Sexual desire Sexual orientation