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The Temporal Stability of Lack of Sexual Attraction Across Young Adulthood

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There is a large and growing literature on the stability of sexual orientation across the lifespan. However, virtually no studies have been conducted on the longitudinal stability of any dimension of asexuality. Here I utilized Kinsey scale-type data from Wave III and Wave IV of the Add Health survey to measure the stability of indicating “not sexually attracted to either males or females” in a forced-choice, Kinsey-type scale and during the time participants were moving through early adulthood (18–26 years in Wave III and 24–32 years in Wave IV). I found that, for the most part, individuals who reported no sexual attraction in Wave III were not the same individuals who reported no sexual attraction in Wave IV, with only three out of the 25 in Wave III who indicated no sexual attraction going on to do the same in Wave IV. This inter-wave consistency was lower than it was for other sexual minorities. However, indicating no sexual attraction in one wave was still a statistically significant predictor of indicating no sexual attraction in the other wave, as was refusing to answer or indicating the “don’t know” option in the other wave. These findings do not necessarily denote change in sexual attraction across waves; the fact that not answering the question in one wave was a significant predictor of indicating no sexual attraction in the other wave provides quantitative evidence for the ambiguities involved in sexual identities when sexuality is taken for granted in the broader culture. This ambiguity affects the operationalization and quantification of asexuality.

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  1. The term “allosexual” is often used to refer to people who do not fall on the asexual spectrum, and who fit in a sexual category (gay, lesbian, straight, etc.). There is an ongoing discussion about its appropriateness; here I use it to clearly distinguish traditional sexual categories from asexual categories.


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Correspondence to Stephen Cranney.

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Cranney, S. The Temporal Stability of Lack of Sexual Attraction Across Young Adulthood. Arch Sex Behav 45, 743–749 (2016).

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