Adolescents define sexual orientation and suggest ways to measure it

J Adolesc. 2004 Jun;27(3):303-17. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2004.03.006.


Researchers disagree on how to assess adolescent sexual orientation. The relative importance of various dimensions (e.g. attraction, relationships, behavior, self-labeling) is unknown, which calls into question the validity of studies assessing adolescent sexual orientation. To address this issue, 50 male and female adolescents of varied sexual orientations participated in focus groups and interviews. Two types of sexual attraction-one a physiologic reaction and the other a cognitive response-were central to adolescent sexual orientation. Participants did not perceive sexual behavior and self-identification as necessarily relevant. Preliminary items to measure sexual attraction were developed based on these adolescents' perceptions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Perception
  • Self Concept
  • Self-Assessment
  • Sexual Behavior*