The Sell Assessment of Sexual Orientation: Background and Scoring


The measurement of sexual orientations in research studies is becoming increasingly prevalent despite little critical examination of how this should be done. This paper reviews how sexual orientations have been measured historically, and provides a review of the strengths and limitations of each measure. Measures of sexual orientation are categorized as: 1) dichotomous, 2) bipolar (such as the Kinsey Scale), 3) multidimensional (such as the Klein Scale), and/or 4) orthogonal (such as the scale proposed by Shively and DeCecco). A new measure of sexual orientation, the Sell Assessment of Sexual Orientation, is proposed based upon this review. Finally, methods of scoring and summarizing the proposed measure are discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Bem S. L. (1981). Bern sex-role inventory: Professional manual. Palo Alto: Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Berkey B. R., Perelman-Hall T, Kurdek LA. (1990). The multidimensional scale of sexuality. Journal of Homosexuality. 19(4):67–87.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Coleman E. (1990). Toward a synthetic understanding of sexual orientation. In Homosexuality/heterosexuality: Concepts of sexual orientation. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  4. De Pareja, F. 1613 Confesionario; A documentary source for Timucuan ethnolography, Ed. Jerald T. Milanich and William C. Sturtevant. (1972). Tallahassee: Division of Archives, Florida Dept. of State.

  5. Katz, J. N. (1992). Gay American history: Lesbians and gay men in the United States. New York: Meridian.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Kinsey, A. C, Pomeroy, W. B., Martin, C. E. (1948). Sexual behavior in the human male. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Kinsey, A. C, Pomeroy, W. B., Martin, C. E., Gebhard, P. H. (1953). Sexual behavior in the human female. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Klein, F., Sepekoff, B., Wolf, T. J. (1985). Sexual orientation: A multi-variable dynamic process. Journal of Homosexuality. 11(1/2):35–49.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Masters, W. H., Johnson, V. E. (1979). Homosexuality in perspective. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Microsoft Word Version 6.0a, Microsoft Corporation, Copyright 1983–1994.

  11. Sambrooks, J. E., MacCulloch, M. J. (1973). A modification of the sexual orientation method and automated technique for presentation and scoring. British Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. 12:163–174.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Sell, R. L., Petrulio, C. (1995). Sampling homosexuals, bisexuals, gays, and lesbians for public health research: A review of the literature from 1990–1992. Journal of Homosexuality. 30(4):31–47.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Shively, M. G., DeCecco, J. P. (1977). Components of sexual identity. Journal of Homosexuality. 3:41–48.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Storms, M. D. (1980). Theories of sexual orientation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 38(5):783–792.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Streiner, D. L., Norman, G. R. (1989). Health measurement scales: A practical guide to their development and use. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Ulrichs, K. H. (1994). The riddle of man-manly love. Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Weinberg, M. S., Williams, C. J., Pryor, D. W. (1994). Dual attraction. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Weinrich, J. D., Snyder, P. J., Pillard, R. C, et al. (1993). A factor analysis of the Klein sexual orientation grid in two disparate samples. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 22(2):157–168.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Randall L. Sell.

Additional information

This investigation was supported by Health Resources and Services Administration, National Research Service Award T32PE10012 from the Bureau of Health Professions.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Sell, R.L. The Sell Assessment of Sexual Orientation: Background and Scoring. International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies 1, 295–310 (1996).

Download citation

Key words

  • sexual orientation
  • homosexuality
  • heterosexuality
  • psychometrics