Identifying Basic Classes of Sexual Orientation with Latent Profile Analysis: Developing the Multivariate Sexual Orientation Classification System
- 230 Downloads
Despite considerable progress, research on sexual minorities has been hindered by a lack of clarity and consistency in defining sexual minority groups. Further, despite recent recommendations to assess the three main dimensions of sexual orientation—identity, behavior, and attraction—it remains unclear how best to integrate such multivariate information to define discrete sexual orientation groups, particularly when identity and behavior fail to match. The current study used a data-driven approach to identify a parsimonious set of sexual orientation classes. Latent profile analysis (LPA) was run within a large (N = 3182) and sexually diverse sample, using dimensions of sexual identity, behavior, and attraction as predictors. LPAs supported four fundamental sexual orientation classes not only in the overall sample, but also when conducted separately in men (n = 980) and women (n = 2175): heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, and heteroflexible (a class representing individuals who self-identify as heterosexual or mostly heterosexual but report moderate same-sex sexual behavior and attraction). Heterosexuals reported the highest levels of psychological functioning and lowest risk behaviors. Homosexuals showed similarly high levels of psychological functioning to heterosexuals, but higher levels of risk behaviors. Bisexuals and heteroflexibles showed similarly low levels of psychological functioning and high risk taking. To facilitate applications of this classification approach, the study developed the Multivariate Sexual Orientation Classification System, reproducing the four LPA groups with 97% accuracy (kappa = .95) using just two items. Implications of this classification approach are discussed.
KeywordsSexual orientation Gay Lesbian Bisexual Mostly heterosexual Health disparities
- Austin, S. B., Roberts, A. L., Corliss, H. L., & Molnar, B. E. (2008). Sexual violence victimization history and sexual risk indicators in a community-based urban cohort of “mostly heterosexual” and heterosexual young women. American Journal of Public Health, 98, 1015–1020. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2006.099473.Google Scholar
- Austin, S. B., Ziyadeh, N., Fisher, L. B., Kahn, J. A., Colditz, G. A., & Frazier, A. L. (2004a). Sexual orientation and tobacco use in a cohort study of US adolescent girls and boys. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 158, 317–322. https://doi.org/10.1001/archpedi.158.4.317.Google Scholar
- Austin, S. B., Ziyadeh, N., Kahn, J. A., Camargo, C. A., Colditz, G. A., & Field, A. E. (2004b). Sexual orientation, weight concerns, and eating-disordered behaviors in adolescent girls and boys. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 43, 1115–1123. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.chi.0000131139.93862.10.Google Scholar
- Badgett, M. V. L. (2009). Best practices for asking questions about sexual orientation on surveys. The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law. Retrieved May 14, 2017, from http://escholarship.org/uc/item/706057d5.
- Cochran, S. D., Mays, V. M., & Sullivan, J. G. (2003). Prevalence of mental disorders, psychological distress, and mental health services use among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults in the United States. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71, 53–61. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.71.1.53.Google Scholar
- Copen, C. E., Chandra, A., & Febo-Vazquez, I. (2016). Sexual behavior, sexual attraction, and sexual orientation among adults aged 18–44 in the United States: Data from the 2011–2013 National Survey of Family Growth. National Health Statistics Reports, 88, 1–14. Retrieved May 14, 2017, from http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/26766410.
- Corliss, H. L., Rosario, M., Wypij, D., Fisher, L. B., & Austin, S. B. (2008). Sexual orientation disparities in longitudinal alcohol use patterns among adolescents: Findings from the Growing Up Today Study. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 162, 1071–1078. https://doi.org/10.1001/archpedi.162.11.1071.Google Scholar
- Diamond, L. M. (2008). Sexual fluidity: Understanding women’s love and desire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Dodge, B., & Sandfort, T. (2007). A review of mental health research on bisexual individuals when compared to homosexual and heterosexual individuals. In B. A. Firestein (Ed.), Becoming visible: Counseling bisexuals across the lifespan (pp. 28–51). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Gates, G. J. (2011). How many people are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender? The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law. Retrieved May 14, 2017, from https://escholarship.org/uc/item/09h684x2.
- Gates, G. J. (2012). LGBT identity: A demographer’s perspective. Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, 45, 693–714. Retrieved May 14, 2017, from http://escholarship.org/uc/item/53x3r16j.
- Grov, C., Hirshfield, S., Remien, R. H., Humberstone, M., & Chiasson, M. A. (2013). Exploring the venue’s role in risky sexual behavior among gay and bisexual men: An event-level analysis from a national online survey in the U.S. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42, 291–302. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-011-9854-x.Google Scholar
- Guadamuz, T. E., Lim, S. H., Marshal, M. P., Friedman, M. S., Stall, R. D., & Silvestre, A. J. (2012). Sexual, behavioral, and quality of life characteristics of healthy weight, overweight, and obese gay and bisexual men: Findings from a prospective cohort study. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41, 385–389.Google Scholar
- Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy, W. B., & Martin, C. E. (1948). Sexual behavior in the human male. Philadephia, PA: W.B. Saunders.Google Scholar
- Maniaci, M., & Rogge, R. D. (2014b). Conducting research on the Internet. In H. T. Reis & C. M. Judd (Eds.), Handbook of research methods in social and personality psychology (2nd ed., pp. 443–470). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- McCutcheon, A. L. (1987). Latent class analysis. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (2012). MPlus (Version 7). Los Angeles, CA: Muthén & Muthén.Google Scholar
- Purcell, D. W., Johnson, C. H., Lansky, A., Prejean, J., Stein, R., Denning, P., … Crepaz, N. (2012). Estimating the population size of men who have sex with men in the United States to obtain HIV and syphilis rates. Open AIDS Journal, 6, 98–107. https://doi.org/10.2174/1874613601206010098.Google Scholar
- Rosario, M., Corliss, H. L., Everett, B. G., Reisner, S. L., Austin, S. B., Buchting, F. O., & Birkett, M. (2014). Sexual orientation disparities in cancer-related risk behaviors of tobacco, alcohol, sexual behaviors, and diet and physical activity: Pooled youth risk behavior surveys. American Journal of Public Health, 104, 245–254. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2013.301506.Google Scholar
- Rosenberg, M. (1979). Conceiving the self. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Ross, L. E., Salway, T., Tarasoff, L. A., MacKay, J. M., Hawkins, B. W., & Fehr, C. P. (2018). Prevalence of depression and anxiety among bisexual people compared to gay, lesbian, and heterosexual individuals: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Sex Research, 55, 435–456. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2017.1387755.Google Scholar
- Sell, R. L. (2007). Defining and measuring sexual orientation for research. In I. H. Meyer & M. E. Northridge (Eds.), The health of sexual minorities: Public health perspectives on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations (pp. 355–374). New York: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-31334-4_14.Google Scholar
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2010). Healthy People 2020: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender health. Retrieved May 14, 2017, from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/lesbiangay-bisexual-and-transgender-health.
- Vrangalova, Z., & Savin-Williams, R. C. (2012). Mostly heterosexual and mostly gay/lesbian: Evidence for new sexual orientation identities. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41, 85–101.Google Scholar
- Watson, D., Clark, L. A., Weber, K., Assenheimer, J. S., Strauss, M. E., & McCormick, R. A. (1995). Testing a tripartite model: II. Exploring the symptom structure of anxiety and depression in student, adult, and patient samples. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 104, 3–14. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-843X.104.1.3.Google Scholar
- Weibley, S., & Hindin, M. (2011). Self-identified lesbian internalized homophobia scale. In T. D. Fisher, C. M. Davis, W. L. Yarber, & S. L. Davis (Eds.), Handbook of sexuality-related measures (3rd ed., pp. 400–402). New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Wohl, A. R., Johnson, D. F., Lu, S., Jordan, W., Beall, G., Currier, J., & Simon, P. A. (2002). HIV risk behaviors among African American men in Los Angeles County who self-identify as heterosexual. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, 31, 354–360. https://doi.org/10.1097/00126334-200211010-00013.Google Scholar
- Xu, F., Sternberg, M. R., & Markowitz, L. E. (2010a). Men who have sex with men in the United States: Demographic and behavioral characteristics and prevalence of HIV and HSV-2 infection: Results from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2006. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 37, 399–405. https://doi.org/10.1097/OLQ.0b013e3181ce122b.Google Scholar
- Xu, F., Sternberg, M. R., & Markowitz, L. E. (2010b). Women who have sex with women in the United States: Prevalence, sexual behavior and prevalence of herpes simplex virus type 2 infection—Results from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001–2006. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 37, 407–413. https://doi.org/10.1097/OLQ.0b013e3181db2e18.Google Scholar
- Zellner, J. A., Martínez-Donate, A. P., Sañudo, F., Fernández-Cerdeño, A., Sipan, C. L., Hovell, M. F., & Carrillo, H. (2009). The interaction of sexual identity with sexual behavior and its influence on HIV risk among Latino men: Results of a community survey in northern San Diego County, California. American Journal of Public Health, 99, 125–132. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2007.129809.Google Scholar