Research in Homosexuality: Back to the Drawing Board

  • Alan P. Bell
Part of the Perspectives in Sexuality book series (Persp. Sex.)


Before addressing ourselves to the question “Where do we go from here?” with respect to research in the area of homosexuality, we would do well to take stock of where we have been and where we are. In this regard, I cannot think of a more comprehensive statement than what is to be found in the preface to Weinberg’s and my annotated bibliography of homosexuality. In our summary of the 1265 items which were included in that volume, we pointed out that

discussions of homosexuality have consisted primarily of speculations prompted by theoretical models or statements whose constructs have not been tested in any systematic manner.… Studies designed to test these assumptions [about the nature of homosexual development] have been few, while those which have been conducted have usually included small, biased samples as well as measurements which have been subjectively derived. Little attention has been given to the wide range of homosexual orientation and adjustment; most have viewed homosexuality-heterosexuality as a simple dichotomy … most of their subjects have been those who eschew their homosexual orientation and whose functioning in other areas of their lives has been marginal. Usually there has been no attempt to determine the relationship of etiological factors to subsequent behavior and adjustment. In addition, the focus of these researchers and commentators all too often has precluded any reference to those processes — both sociological and psychological — which maintain the homosexual’s career. The homosexual is most commonly viewed as an inheritor of certain dispositions which were crystallized in the past and which account inevitably for all of his future behavior … a consideration of his behaviors as goal-directed is generally disregarded.…

[There has been no attempt] to investigate systematically differences in the developmental histories, in the life styles and adjustments, in the sexual attitudes and behaviors, and in the wide range of self- and other-experiencing, which may prove to be functions of such matters as age, sex, education, and race, which transcend whatever important features exist in the homosexual community.


Sexual Experience Sexual Arousal Sexual Attitude Homosexual Community Homosexual Behavior 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan P. Bell
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Sex ResearchIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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