Prevalence and Stability of Self-Reported Sexual Orientation Identity During Young Adulthood
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.
KeywordsSexual orientation Sexual identity Prevalence Adulthood Add Health
- Chandra, A., Mosher, W. D., & Copen, C. (2011, March). Sexual behavior, sexual attraction, and sexual identity in the United States: Data from the 2006–2008 National Survey of Family Growth. National Health Statistics Reports, Number 36. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.Google Scholar
- Chantala, K, & Tabor, J. (2010). National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health: Strategies to perform a design-based analysis using the add-health data. Retrieved from http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/addhealth/data/guides/weight1.pdf. Accessed 19 Aug 2011.
- Diamond, L. M. (2008). Sexual fluidity: Understanding women’s love and desire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Harris, K. M., Florey, F., Tabor, J., Bearman, P. S., Jones, J., & Udry, J. R. (2003). The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health: Research Design. Chapel Hill, NC: Carolina Population Center. http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/addhealth/design and http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/addhealth/design. Accessed 19 Aug 2011.
- Hayes, J., Chakraborty, A. T., McManus, S., Bebbington, P., Brugha, T., Nicholson, S., & King, M. (2011). Prevalence of same-sex behavior and orientation in England: Results from a national survey. Archives of Sexual Behavior. doi:10.1007/s10508-011-9856-8.
- McCabe, S. E., Hughes, T. L., Bostwick, W., Morales, M., & Boyd, C. J. (2011). Measurement of sexual identity in surveys: Implications for substance abuse research. Archives of Sexual Behavior. doi:10.1007/s10508-011-9768-7.
- Mock, S. E., & Eibach, R. P. (2011). Stability and change in sexual orientation identity over a 10-year period in adulthood. Archives of Sexual Behavior. doi:10.1007/s10508-011-9761-1.
- Perrin, E. C. (2002). Sexual orientation in child and adolescent health care. New York: Kluwer/Plenum.Google Scholar
- Savin-Williams, R. C. (2005). The new gay teenager. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Tourangeau, R., & Hee-Choon, S. (1998). National longitudinal study of adolescent health grand sample weight. Chapel Hill, NC: Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/addhealth/data/guides/weights.pdf. Accessed 26 Dec 2011.
- Udry, J. R., & Bearman, P. S. (1998). The national longitudinal study of adolescent health. Retrieved from http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/addhealth/. Accessed 3 Jan 2011.
- van Griensven, F., Kilmarx, P. H., Jeeyapant, S., Manopaiboon, C., Korattana, S., Jenkins, R. A., et al. (2004). The prevalence of bisexual and homosexual orientation and related health risks among adolescents in northern Thailand. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 33, 137–147.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Vrangalova, Z., & Savin-Williams, R. C. (2012). Mostly heterosexual and mostly gay/lesbian: Evidence for new sexual orientation identities. Archives of Sexual Behavior. doi:10.1007/s10508-012-9921-y.