Is there a reliable and valid self-report measure of sexual behavior?

Arch Sex Behav. 1988 Dec;17(6):509-25. doi: 10.1007/BF01542339.


A psychometric analysis of the Sexual Experience Scale (SES) from the Derogatis Sexual Functioning Inventory was conducted. This sexual behavior measure was administered on four occasions to a large sample of normal, heterosexual, sexually active women and a comparable sample which underwent gynecologic treatment that resulted in a predictable and clinical level of sexual dysfunction. In terms of reliability, internal consistency estimates for the SES were in the .85 to .90 range, but the stability of the SES was lower and ranged from .55 to .85. An evaluation of the validity revealed both strengths and limitations of the SES. The content analysis reveals that a wider range of sexual behaviors is sampled by the SES than comparable measures. To examine construct validity, a factor analysis provided a five-factor solution which would account for 82% of the variance, but the solution was not stable across groups or time and the factors were not sensitive to detecting important behavior changes. As many other psychological measures, the SES was poor in predicting a criterion (i.e., the occurrence of sexual dysfunction) concurrently or at the time of follow-up. The outcome of this analysis is discussed in the context of selecting reliable and valid self-report measures of sexual behavior.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Coitus
  • Female
  • Genital Diseases, Female / psychology
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / psychology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Orgasm
  • Psychological Tests*
  • Psychometrics
  • Sexual Behavior*