Asexual Identity, Personality, and Social Motivations in a New Zealand National Sample

Arch Sex Behav. 2021 Nov;50(8):3843-3852. doi: 10.1007/s10508-021-02038-0. Epub 2021 Oct 20.


Growing research interest in asexuality has led to several notable findings around the differences between asexual people and those with other sexual orientations. These findings have recently extended to personality, but questions remain around differences in personality between asexual people and others. Furthermore, qualitative and quantitative research disagrees about whether asexual people are less interested in close relationships than others. This paper used data from a nationally representative sample of self-identified asexual participants (Analysis 1: nwomen = 216, nmen = 54, ngender diverse = 13; Analysis 2: nwomen = 53, nmen = 19, ngender diverse = 3) and matched samples of heterosexual and lesbian, gay, and bisexual/plurisexual (LGB) participants (N's = 75-283) drawn from the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study (Ns = 19,396-54,183) to explore personality (Analysis 1) and approach and avoidance social motivations (Analysis 2). Compared to heterosexuals, asexual participants reported significantly lower extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness, and higher emotionality, openness, and honesty-humility. Compared to those who identified as LGB, asexual participants reported significantly lower extraversion and agreeableness and higher honesty-humility. In addition, asexual participants scored significantly lower on approach (but not avoidance) social motivation than both heterosexual and LGB participants, indicating that they are less motivated to enhance positive experiences and behavior in their social relationships. These results help to clarify how personality and social motivations covary with sexual identity.

Keywords: Asexual identity; Asexuality; Big Six; Personality; Social motivation.