Face Validity Ratings of Sexual Orientation Scales by Sexual Minority Adults: Effects of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Abstract

The present research explored sexual minority individuals’ ratings of two traditional (Kinsey and Klein Sexual Orientation Grid [KSOG]) and two novel (Sexual-Romantic and Gender Inclusive) sexual orientation scales with regard to how well they capture their sexuality. Participants included 363 sexual minority individuals who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, or queer, and included individuals who identified as transgender (n = 85) and cisgender (n = 278). The findings indicated clear patterns of responses across both sexual orientation and gender identity, where participants differed in the degree to which they felt the scales captured their sexuality. A main effect of sexual orientation was found for all four scales, where participants endorsing monosexual (lesbian/gay) identities rated the scales more positively than did participants endorsing plurisexual (bisexual and pansexual/queer) identities. Bisexual individuals had a unique pattern of ratings, which sometimes aligned with those of lesbian/gay participants and sometimes aligned with pansexual/queer participants. A main effect of gender identity was found for the Kinsey, KSOG, and Sexual-Romantic (but not Gender Inclusive) scales, where cisgender individuals rated the scales more positively than did transgender individuals. There were no significant interaction effects between sexual orientation and gender identity for any of the four scales. The present findings can be used to understand sexual minority individuals’ assessment of the face validity of four sexual orientation measures. Discussion focused on the implications for using traditional measures of sexual orientation in research as well as for the development of new measures that better capture the range of sexual minority experience.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    We use plurisexual to refer to identities that are not explicitly based on attraction to one sex and leave open the potential for attraction to more than one sex/gender (e.g., bisexual, pansexual, queer, and fluid). Plurisexual is used instead of non-monosexual because it does not linguistically assume monosexual as the ideal conceptualization of sexuality (see Galupo et al., 2014b).

  2. 2.

    Gender identity is typically described as an individual’s private understanding of themselves as male, female, both, or neither (Tate, 2014). Cisgender and transgender are labels that can be used to describe the relationship between an individual’s gender identity and sex assigned at birth (SAB); cisgender individuals have a gender identity that is the same as their SAB, and transgender individuals have a gender identity that is different from their SAB.

  3. 3.

    Although pansexual and queer participants did not significantly differ on their validity ratings for any the scales, queer participants (M = 27.14) were significantly older than pansexual participants (M = 24.44) and were more likely to identify as transgender (55 vs. 38%).

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Funding

This study was funded by the American Institute of Bisexuality awarded to M. Paz Galupo.

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Correspondence to M. Paz Galupo.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Appendix: Novel Measures of Sexual Orientation

Appendix: Novel Measures of Sexual Orientation

Sexual-Romantic scale a
I am sexually attracted to individuals of the same-sex
I am romantically attracted to individuals of the same-sex
I am sexually attracted to individuals of the other-sex
I am romantically attracted to individuals of the other-sex
Gender Inclusive scale a
I am attracted to individuals of the same-sexb
I am attracted to individuals of the same-sexb
I am attracted to masculine individuals
I am attracted to feminine individuals
I am attracted to androgynous individuals
I am attracted to gender non-conforming individuals
  1. aBoth scales are rated on a 7-point scale between 1 = Almost Never True to 7 = Almost Always True
  2. bThe first two items on the scale would have better resonated with sexual minority participants had they read: “I am attracted to women,” and “I am attracted to men.” This is the suggested wording for use of this scale in future work (see Galupo, Lomash, & Mitchell, 2017)

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Galupo, M.P., Mitchell, R.C. & Davis, K.S. Face Validity Ratings of Sexual Orientation Scales by Sexual Minority Adults: Effects of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. Arch Sex Behav 47, 1241–1250 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-017-1037-y

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Keywords

  • Cisgender
  • Intersectionality
  • Monosexual
  • Plurisexual
  • Sexual orientation
  • Transgender